Okay everyone, stop with all this 4/20 business right now! You may think cannabis is just a fun recreational drug, or maybe even a useful medicine – but news just in: medical marijuana is actually a US government conspiracy to turn black men homosexual. Or, at least it is according to Dr Wesley Muhammad of the Nation of Islam.
I'm no expert, but I think we can probably file the claim that weed "chemically induces homosexuality" alongside evangelical Christians insisting that humans and dinosaurs co-existed under "whacky shit that very religious people say".
Or can we?
In early 2015 there was a big media kerfuffle about the idea of "Highsexuality", where normally straight men experience uncontrollable attraction to other men after smoking weed. There were articles, opinion pieces and lots of furious commenting under Youtube videos.
On investigation, though, the whole "Highsexualism" thing seems to trace back to a single Reddit thread, where the user throwaway15935745625 claimed (all SIC):
I feel very attracted to girls and not at all to men when sober, but when I get high I just want a big cock to suck and a man who fucks the shit out of me.
Anyone else happens to have the same effects? Just curiosity, not that it really bothers me since I'm still attracted to girls while high, but I sometimes feel wierded by male friends whith whom I don't usually feel attracted to.
PD: this only happens when I'm WAY too high, a few shared joints don't put me like this, but oh boy, when I'm on the edge of passing out in the couch...
EDIT: After that happened for a few time I decided to have sex with a guy. Maybe its because I'm just 19 and he was like 23 but I felt so grossed that I couldn't go beyond oral sex.
Most of the other commenters on the page responded with a surprising and encouraging level of maturity and supportiveness. Some jokingly pointing out that this thread was suspiciously similar to this one about cocaine and this one about LSD. I reached out to throwaway15935745625 for comment, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, got no response.
The takeaway from all this might be that people shouldn't freak out so much about a single thread on Reddit. But there does seem to be some sort of link in our culture between marijuana and homosexuality – or at least more generally to "alternative sexualities", even if that link is most often made by disapproving conservative and religious types.
WATCH: A clip from from the VICELAND special 'Stoned', airing at 10PM on Wednesday the 19th of April.
I spoke to Jason Tantra, who runs Tantra 4 Gay Men, and he was pretty clear on the matter.
"Human sexuality is rarely as easy as gay or straight. It's a scale," he said. "What marijuana can do is dull the inhibitions. Any mind-altering substance might remove the filters and protections that people put in place to conform to everyday life, but you can only express and explore who you actually are – no chemical can make you other than that. A straight person is not going to become gay – but if there are some latent feelings towards either sex, their repression may be lifted to act on that truth in themselves."
This makes sense. Weed functions like any other drug in lowering inhibitions and altering the choices we might make. Of course, that's a long way from claiming that THC – or any other chemical compound – can magically induce a change of sexual orientation.
But what if there's more to the connection between cannabis and sexuality than just liberating repressed desires?
In my investigations around this I stumbled on the online community of men who use Aneros prostate massage tools in order to become multi-orgasmic. These forums are pretty intense, particularly when they start talking about combining their practice with weed. Users regularly write stuff like "the feelings were SO INTENSE and AMAZING it was like I was transported to another dimension of sexual pleasure" (their caps, not mine).
I reached out to some of these guys to find out more about these "other dimensions of sexual pleasure". One wrote back simply saying he had combined weed and sex to achieve "some of the most profound experiences I've ever imagined". Another wrote in more detail: "The very first time I used pot with Aneros I had multiple orgasms for the first time. I can now experience this sober or high – pot was like the training wheels, though I still feel my best sexual experiences are when I've taken some. When I first read things about 'feeling energy' or 'moving energy up your body' and stuff like that, I thought it was sort of ridiculous. But since these experiences it's started making sense. Sometimes it's like when I'm feeling that pleasure coming on, I almost hover just a few feet above my body in the room."
John, another contributor, spoke about how these experiences had also changed his perspective on life outside the bedroom. "Weed allows me to clear my head, relax my body and really focus, to concentrate on the 'now'," he said. "I've been keeping a journal for the past few months regarding these experiences. It's still evolving, but, at the very least, I feel a heightened awareness of myself – no answers or clarity yet, but it's definitely opened up something in me."
So far, so fair. However, all of my interviewees had been men, so to hear a woman's perspective on these ideas I spoke to intimacy and empowerment coach Clara Gómez Santos.
"I've had people talk to me about combining sexual energy and cannabis to achieve visions like one might have during a psychedelic experience. I think the two can support each other," she said. "This tends to happen when there has been an alignment, a decision to go towards this experience with consciousness and intention. You have to centre yourself and be present; it's not something that will work without intention.
"Cannabis can act as an intensifier for whatever state you are in. It intensifies the senses – touch, sight, taste. That can be very powerful and enriching. But the opposite can happen, too. It can also make you paranoid and make the inner chatter louder. You have to be careful what strain you use, and be very conscious in how you are approaching it."
This also seems to make sense. Cannabis can heighten senses and emotions. It would be naïve to think this wouldn't have some resonances in as deep a human drive as sexuality. But it also makes sense that these things should be approached carefully. There are few things in life less sexy than a pasty stoner playing Jack Johnson covers on an acoustic guitar.
Watch 'Stoned' tonight at 10PM on VICELAND, Sky channel 153, to see us explore this topic more, as well as some other weed-related rumours, such as: "Does weed really impair your short-term memory?" and "Would getting high before an eating contest actually help in any way at all?"
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