Survey Reveals How Italians Combine Cannabis and Sex

Published on September 17, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Cropped image of couple in love holding hands

There are many indications that cannabis can help improve our sex lives. To find out more, scientists in Italy have started a research project to survey how people use both legal and illegal drugs to enhance sexual experiences.

The project is called Piacere Chimico, or Chemical Pleasure, and is led by Dr. Salvatore Giancane, an authority on drugs and drug addiction who works on harm-reduction projects in the public health sector. Giancane’s team is collecting anonymous data via a website and Facebook page. In the first 24 hours, more than 300 people completed the online survey. Italy  has a high rate of cannabis consumption despite its illegal status, and early survey results show that sex and cannabis is a popular combination.

“Besides a prolonged orgasm I feel extremely pleasurable sensations and better communication with my partner.”

More than 20 drugs appear in the survey, ranging from alcohol to heroin to mephedrone to synthetic cannabinoids. The aphrodisiac effects of the drugs isn’t recognized in scientific literature, Giancane told the Corriere di Bologna newspaper, “but it turns out that those who use these substances have another relationship with sex.” We speak of people who take drugs to increase pleasure or because without they are unable to let go, because of cultural or religious conditioning.”

One survey respondent candidly described how cannabis has helped him overcome problems with premature ejaculation. “In the beginning sex was a disaster for me, especially the penetration. A great tension, a performance anxiety was devouring me, with the result that I lasted only a few seconds,” he wrote.

“I had just given up… I had never combined sex and cannabis, the first time it was by accident. For the first time in my life I was relaxed, without anxiety and I could finally feel the tactile sensations of penetration. I never had time for that before. I don’t know how long it lasted but it seemed an eternity. At the end I experienced a long and powerful orgasm. Without any guilt, because my partner had come many times already. From that moment on I only had sex after I smoked. After some years I started to worry a bit, I couldn’t smoke before doing it on all occasions. Then I tried without and warned my partner, but it was fine. I was healed. Now, after 41 years, I don’t need to smoke to do it. But if it’s there, the sex is always better.”

A woman called Federica wrote, “Smoking cannabis with my partner rather than with friends or alone gets me often sexually aroused, and most of the time sex after smoking is a very intense experience. Besides a prolonged orgasm I feel extremely pleasurable sensations and better communication with my partner.”

Some of the preliminary results are dispelling stereotypes, Giancane said. And cannabis, along with alcohol, is emerging as one of the most commonly used substances to pair with sex. “Alcohol will give some surprises, because it’s more risky,” he said. “I see it every day in my professional life. It’s what makes you do things you never wanted to, before you actually get abused. You go to bed with people you would have never wanted if you were sober.”

The survey is ongoing, but responses suggest cannabis could well emerge as the most highly favored to mix with sex. Many other substances, despite some colorful reputations, just don’t belong in the bedroom.

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Enrico Fletzer
Enrico Fletzer
Born in Venice, Enrico Fletzer began work as a journalist in the free radio movement and has gone on to write for newspapers and magazines in Europe and North America. He has translated books and films on cannabis and has participated in research in Bologna, Europe's former hemp capital, that led to the Italian Army's cannabis program. He is a member of the Steering Committee of Encod, the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies.
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