Sexual Desire: Cannabis vs. Alcohol

Written by Petar Petrov

Alcohol and cannabis have been compared in many paragraphs, especially within one’s regarding the bedroom. However, sex usually starts with sexual desire, and a drunk man’s sexual thoughts might be quite different in nature to the ones he has when stoned.

Contrary to the popular belief, every man is different to the next. Generally speaking, it seems that alcohol may unlock a darker, or at least more primal aspect of men’s sexuality whereas cannabis tends to bring out their more sensual and perhaps even romantic side.

The tale of the drunk, sex fiend is one of the oldest campfire stories women have been scaring each other with, and it may turn out to be inspired by real events. A study, led by Abigail Riemer of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the US observed the ways men view photographs of women after a couple of drinks and concluded alcohol predisposes men to objectify women.

“Environments in which alcohol is present are ripe with opportunities for objectifying gazes,” says Riemer. “Adopting objectifying gazes toward women leads perceivers to dehumanize women, potentially laying the foundation for many negative consequences such as sexual violence and workplace gender discrimination.”

Even though the study had men look at photographs rather than actual women, its findings are hardly surprising. Not only have studies found alcohol to be a culprit of sexual aggression, but a body of research, despite being inconclusive, has discovered a connection between alcohol consumption and interest in violent pornography and even rape-supportive attitudes in normal males. This doesn’t go to say alcohol turns noble guys into animals, and every man is different, but generally speaking, there’s a reason why women tend to be cautious around drunk guys.

Cannabis, on the other hand, is considered a strong aphrodisiac as well, with users having been estimated to have 20% more sex than non-smokers. But just like sex can happen for a number of reasons, so can a man’s sexual desire stem from a number of places. Cannabis is known to induce divergent thinking, and this state of mind likely carries into the romantic aspects of men’s psyche. Harvard psychologist Charles Tart examined this idea in his study On Being Stoned. He found that cannabis tends to predispose a deeper connection that goes beyond mere physicality, especially among psychedelics users:

“When making love, I feel I’m in much closer mental contact with my partner, it is more a union of souls as well as bodies,” was a common experience his subjects went through.

Indigo Stray Conger, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Denver, has noticed similar tendencies through her work:

“Weed has the potential to be a reflective experience and slow down interactions, potentially allowing a partner who tends to be more goal-oriented in sexual encounters (i.e. seeking orgasms) to slow down and become more intimate and curious about his mate,” she says.

Martin, 27, from Glasgow, is generally one of those “goal-oriented” guys.

“When I used to go out to look for girls, I would have at least a couple of drinks at home beforehand to help me loosen up and get in the zone. After a few more at the bar, I would often get too drunk to actually talk to anyone. When that happens, I act more on instincts, which are obviously to get sex. It didn’t work too well,” Martin laughs.

“Then I started smoking [weed] instead before going out, and even though I’m often too chilled to even bother chatting up girls, the times when I do, it works much better. Instead of a hammered, horny guy, I can actually have a proper conversation. I’m still horny, don’t get me wrong, but it’s quite different. I have even found myself genuinely interested in a girl which is almost impossible when you are shitfaced and meet a hot girl in a bar for the first time,” he continues.

And that’s not just the case when Martin is on auto-sex-pilot:

“Even when I compare being tipsy to being high, it’s still pretty much the same. Sex is always at the back of my mind [when drunk], and the conversation only serves for getting sex. When I’m stoned, I can actually think about what we’re talking about and possibly even get into it,” he explains.

Nevertheless, looking at a joint as the safest and most accurate Cupid arrow can be a bit too gullible, according to Indigo Conger.

“A caveat of that perspective is that marijuana, like alcohol, reduces inhibitions. Anytime inhibitions are reduced there is a danger that boundaries will not be understood or respected and consent can become an issue,” she says.

Maria, a 25-year old girl from Bulgaria, shares her perspective on the matter:

“When guys are really drunk they can get quite intrusive, or worse, they just can’t understand when you are not interested, unless you shout it out, which can make them aggressive. So, if I have to choose, I’d prefer to get hit on by an overly stoned guy than an overly drunk one,” she explains.

However, she doesn’t find men under excessive influence, be it alcohol or cannabis, too attractive altogether:

“When guys are too stoned they can start talking about all kinds of stuff they think it’s very interesting, when it’s not. I guess it’s the same with very drunk guys, but stoners do it on purpose,” Maria continues.

Perhaps alcohol does tend to highlight the most primal side of sex whereas cannabis can get men (perhaps even people altogether) into that special state of mind where sex becomes a natural flow of energy, a physical expression of something more, even when that something isn’t love per se.

Nevertheless, the safest and most respectable thing men can do is to smoke and especially drink with moderation.



  1. http://www.therooster.com/blog/researchers-just-confirmed-essential-differences-between-high-and-drunk-sex
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171220121957.htm
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/027273589500033L
  4. https://search.proquest.com/openview/61882dfa53129e36e67e1ab5371bf12b/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2031130
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/oct/28/high-libido-cannabis-smokers-have-20-more-sex-researchers-find
  6. http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/03/10/marijuana-and-divergent-thinki/
  7. https://www.newgrowbook.com/filebaseup/ups/pdf/01/On%20Being%20Stoned%20-%20Psychological%20Study%20of%20Marijuana%20Intoxication.pdf

About the author

Petar Petrov

Petar is a freelance writer and copywriter, covering culture, art, society, and anything in-between that makes for a nice story. And as it so happens, cannabis is a great element to add to each of those conversations.