Is Weed Lube a Healthy Alternative to Poppers?
New, adulterated popper formulas are causing eye damage in users (and worse.) Can cannabis oil be the wonder drug that revolutionizes gay sex?
I have a nice ass. Guys like it, and I like it, too. But while it's led gaggles of daddies to harass me on Scruff, I've always had difficulty bottoming. When I mention this to other gays, they run through a checklist: Do I take my time? (Yes.) Do I use lube? (Yes.) Have I tried toys? (Totally.) Have I tried poppers?
Let's talk about poppers.
Poppers are a popular drug made of amyl nitrate. (Sometimes they contain butyl nitrate, or even cycloxehl, isopentyl, or isoamyl nitrate—intense chemicals.) They're great for anal sex, because one quick huff loosens your sphincter and makes you hard as a rock. They're still legal in the US, but can't be sold as a drug, so they're called "room deodorizer" or "VHS head cleaner" at sex stores. "Room deodorizer" is a hilariously misleading name, because poppers smell like dirty socks dipped in gasoline (which, I must admit, could be a kinky stench.) They can also, despite the relative rarity of side effects, be dangerous for you.
The use of poppers is associated with an increased risk of HIV infection—they can more than double one's chance of HIV infection in receptive anal sex, probably because they increase the flow of blood to anal tissues, which makes them more vulnerable to infection. Though evidence indicates they don't make one more likely to have unprotected sex, that's been my personal experience. With poppers, I seem to suddenly find myself inside someone (or them inside me ), and it feels amazing. I'm a superstar, and I suddenly realize there's no protection between me and my new (or old) friend.
Twelve minutes into the high, I was bottoming with ease and enthusiasm. Unlike sex while drunk, where there are sometimes gaps in my memory and lapses in judgement, a weed lube high is measurable and sexy and never feels out of control.
Poppers are relatively safe—a 2007 study ranked them 19th out of 20 drugs in potential for dependency and physical harm. But last year, a study revealed the prevalence of solvents and other adulterants in contemporary poppers, concluding that "sometimes poppers are not poppers." They've even damaged eyesight in some users. The UK almost passed a national ban on poppers this March; Little Jimmy Johnson, MC for the queer party "Sink the Pink" at East London's Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, told VICE the proposal "felt like an attack on gay sex and gay lives." But he appreciated that the bill opened a public conversation about gay sex and drugs. "All good," he said, "all long overdue."
"Poppers are going through a renaissance in London, especially in alternative gay clubbing," said Johnson. "When news of the bill started to circulate, a movement to reclaim and protect the joy of poppers definitely arose. A few parties sprang up in London — Les Poppeurs, Knickerbocker, Awful — where poppers are very much part of the brand. To many of a younger generation of queers, who perhaps just have a different relationships with drugs in general, poppers are seen as near-kitsch, like mirror balls or Sherbet Dip Dabs — silly, nostalgic."
As a new queer generation rediscovers and reevaluates their relationship with poppers, a potential alternative has arrived on the West Coast of the US: marijuana lube and suppositories. This new wave of products include BOND Sensual Oil, Foria Explore (the first commercially available marijuana suppository formulated for anal play,) and Ethos Extracts. Female users report fantastic results: multiple orgasms, intimate foreplay and feelings of empowerment. But what happens when marijuana is used to loosen things up in gay sex?
BOND is one of the first cannabis-essential oils available in Washington State, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. It was created to amplify sexual pleasure in females, and is marketed toward vaginal use, but it's also safe to eat and, lucky me, put up your butt. (You'll want to use regular lube with it in gay sex—although it works as a lubricant in sex, it is a cannabis oil first and foremost, so may not reduce friction enough to facilitate gay anal sex, which requires tons of lube to work. Additionally, it's not recommended for use with latex condoms.)
Unlike other sex drugs, marijuana lubricants are exceptionally safe. BOND is a mixture of coconut and cannabis oil, and its risk of use is nil. Marijuana has always been a natural option as far as recreational drugs go, but its emergence as a sexual lubricant has transformed the age-old psychoactive plant into a tool that could transform the way we play.
The first time I tried weed lube, I wanted to feel it without distraction.
The recommended dosage of BOND is between four and eight pumps. I applied it with a dildo—one pump on, I stuck it in, pulled it out, another pump, and so on, until I reached six pumps. (It smells great, by the way — like a cookie. Or maybe I just had the munchies.)
Ten minutes in, and my entire body was high. My mouth was slightly dry but not irritatingly so. At 13 minutes, my cock was rock hard. The effect was pleasant , not a head high at all, which would typically generate anxiety and paranoia. When I smoke, I find myself spiraling into deep thoughts about Joan Didion and my undying love of dolmas, but this weed lube high was hotter and more focused. At 21 minutes, all I wanted was to finger someone with the lube and then eat it out of them. At 26 minutes, I remembered I have an asshole, touched it, and quickly came. Still high. It was the best climax I'd had in months. At 30 minutes, I took a shower and felt the buzz fade.
The next night, I tried it with a partner. We applied it using my dildo, and both took around six pumps of BOND. It was electric. Twelve minutes into the high, I was bottoming with ease and enthusiasm. Unlike sex while drunk, where there are sometimes gaps in my memory and lapses in judgement; a weed-lube high is measurable and sexy and never feels out of control. Of course, it's still a mind-altering substance, but we were present and aware. We hadn't lost ourselves, and that's what made it so good. When my partner and I finally climaxed, it was euphoric.
The experience of using marijuana lube will be different for everyone, like any drug, and the sensations experienced will depend on where and how you use it. After a few uses, I found it to be a powerful tool that gives me confidence in sex and made bottoming extremely easy. Plus, I had fewer concerns about my health while using it—no poppers headaches or accidentally spilled chemicals, and less room for error in the heat of the moment, when it really counts. As Americans continue to explore the boundaries between drug use and sexuality, weed lube will redefine the way we think about cannabis and our bodies. And, in the end, it'll produce some wicked good sex, no matter where you're putting what.
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