Photo Credit Siam Turakij.
Countering a Sex-Negative Culture
“To find out which cannabis products work best for you, the optimal way, is through masturbation”. These were some of the opening statements made at The Business of Pleasure webinar “Using Cannabis to Spark Intimate Exploration”, part of the Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo. series was held on June 17, 2020. Perhaps a reflection of the direction in which events are taking, the virtual session was hosted by Kaiko Beatie of Green Wave Relations. Beatie is a speaker, writer, and consultant in the cannabis space and is the Director of Health and Wellness Education Outreach at Coral Cove Wellness Resort in Negril, Jamaica. She is also a NORML Board Member for Orange County, California, USA. The two panelists are both stewards in this field, not just cannabis, but the marriage of cannabis and sexual intimacy. “I created Pleasure Peaks because I wanted to help everyone, specifically women because women deal with a lot of sexual health ailments that are huge barriers to having pleasurable sex.” Says, panelist Antuanette Gomez, the company’s founder.
Pleasure Peaks, is a “cannabinoid-based sexual health company for women. [We] focus on raising awareness on how cannabis can be a great natural alternative to many sexual health ailments.” She wants women to have a “pleasurable and optimal sex life regardless of whatever they were dealing with.” Gomez, like her co-panelist Ashley Manta, founder of Cannasexual, has put her entire livelihood into this niche in the cannabis space. Both believe education and cannabis are the way to a better sex life and relationship with one’s self.
Manta started in sexual violence prevention education, victim advocacy and sexual health through Planned Parenthood over 14 years ago. Then she moved to California and got a job as a phone-sex operator. She says, “I also worked at Pleasure Chest, learning about toys, and lotions and potions. I was only a casual cannabis user until I realized that I had PTSD. Cannabis was really helpful to me because I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am a sexual violence survivor myself, and I’ve had pain with penetration most of my life and it wasn’t until I found Foria, a THC infused coconut oil spray to put on the vulva and I was able to have pain-free penetration. That was such a watershed moment for me.” This inspired her to start the Elevated Intimacy podcast (elevatedintimacy.com), which will also offer a Cannabis and Sex course, shortly. According to both panelists, “It’s all about education.”
Gomez also hosts a podcast series called Pleasure Talks. She encourages guests to speak about their experiences with cannabis and their sex lives. “When it comes to sexuality and cannabis, they are so complex, both of them. I find that it’s very much a personalized medicine. It’s personalized in the way it’s gonna affect you.” The podcast provides real-life testimonials from consumers and patients. “The goal is to provide anecdotal information someone can relate to and enhance their life experience.”
Like most ventures and activities scheduled for 2020, Gomez has postponed her North American tour and the launch of a new product line. Manta however, still intends to host her annual Couples Retreat at Coral Cove Wellness Resort, this September. Manta will also release a book during the same month. The CBD Solution to Sex, will be published in conjunction with Mary Jane, through Chronicle Books. The main subject being, “Using CBD and broadly cannabis to enhance and accentuate your sex life.”
“There are over 150 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and they all have their own role.” While THC and CBD are the most popular and the discovery of CBG gaining momentum, Gomez finds that when using cannabis, understanding the cannabinoids can really help whether it’s mitigating pain or dealing with anxiety. “It can definitely help when it comes to anxiety. CBD more specifically. Whether it’s sexual trauma or sexual anxiety.”
“It can also help couples come together, just by surrendering to our bodies. What I love about cannabis is that it’s clearly a front-runner in terms of relaxation and it can really create this intimate bond between partners if used intentionally.” Manta asserts cannabis helps with things that get in the way of “pleasure-connection” or intimacy. “Whether it’s pain, or anxiety, or shame. Shame is very common in our culture because we live in a sex-negative culture, which makes you feel bad about who you are and what you like. We aspire to ideals of what sex is supposed to look like.”
There is no normal.
Manta emphasizes, the most important sexual relationship one has in life is with yourself. “Your sex life doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s on the planet and that’s totally fine”. Insisting the best way to “field-test” products is through masturbation. “So you can see how it impacts your sexual experience when you’re by yourself and you can control all of the variables. As opposed to being with a partner where there could be 1000 reasons why you’re not connecting and none of them have anything to do with cannabis.” Beatie pointed out that when you know that you want, you can communicate this to your partner.
“Vulnerability is the key to connection and the key to good communication and cannabis helps so much”, says Gomez. “I find that our guards are let down once we are consuming a little bit of cannabis. We’re a lot more honest with each other. Vulnerability is the key to the best sex of your life! A lot of us have our own sexual traumas or taboos or things that are stopping us from thinking that things we like or want to try are not normal. That’s what I love about being in the sex space right now, is that there is no normal”.
Size Matters! Start Small.
Both do recommend a cautioned approach when introducing cannabis into your sexual exploration or routine. Manta pointed out that a major deterrent occurs when people take the wrong dosage or strain. She added, “the THC high associated with certain strains and products are not necessary. Cannabis does not have to be intoxicating, there are many ways to enjoy the benefits of cannabis that will not give you the head-high” associated with THC. “There are also of non-intoxicating ways to enjoy cannabis sexually”.
Gomez advises, “for newer consumes who are afraid of getting too high, or having an adverse reaction to feeling out-of-it or disconnected from their bodies or their partner, that are a lot of ways you can interact with the cannabis plant. Things like topicals or a bath bomb are not going to get you high”.
They also both shy away from edibles due to the variable dosage and timeframe for the effects to kick-in. Manta suggests tinctures. “I like tinctures because you put them under your tongue. They absorb much more quickly and you feel the effects more quickly, so you can tweak your dosage more readily and more precisely. You can do a few drops wait 20 minutes and do a few more and you’re solid.”
Order Sex Like Ordering Pizza
Manta was inspired by a notion put forward by Al Vernacchio a Sexuality Educator, “If you and your partner are ordering pizza, you ask, how hungry are you? How much sauce do you like? Do like mushrooms or onions or pepperoni? Can we do half mushrooms and half pepperoni?” Starting from a point of good communication, we can create the sexual experience we want and want to share with our partners. “The idea is to get people to think about sex as a negotiation, where the goal is a mutual win.” With cannabis, ask, “how do I want to feel?” Gomez added, “mindset and setting make such an impact, your hormones make such an impact, the products you choose and the effects you’re going for all make an impact.”
For Manta’s couple’s sessions, she says, “the first thing I try to get couples to do is to get clear on what you are trying to accomplish. What are you trying to enhance? What are you trying to diminish the impact of?” She then guides them to think about what products are going to be best? A mutual mindfulness exercise, if you will.
As far as other product recommendations, Gomez recommends using lube. “It’s a topical so it has a localized effect, you will not get a head-high. It’s a lot easier to squeeze out an orgasm with cannabis-based lubricant. Even if it’s a low dose lubricant, I still find it very effective”. Manta also agrees, however, she adds, the word lube is a misnomer. Instead of thinking of the lubes as something to make something slick, think of it like a marinade that you put on the vulva. You want to give it time to absorb into the nerves and tissue and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes”.
Prohibition prevented research and product development with the cannabis space for decades. Its liberation has spawned an industry with many facets. The arena of cannabis and sexuality is ripe for innovation and women are taking the lead. We are really seeing just the tip of the iceberg to the potential for cannabis infusion is all aspects of our lives.