[Canniseur: This is an important story for all men whether they’re gay, bi, trans, cis, hetero, or whatever. Here’s information about how cannabis can affect our mental state of intimacy. The subjects in this study were not straight, but still has a lot to teach all men.]
Men who consumed cannabis before sex said they had better orgasms, felt less shame afterwards, and were more emotionally connected.
For a recent study, researchers interviewed 41 non-straight men about their cannabis use during sex and found that many reported the substance improved their experiences.
Some said cannabis helped them physically, like lasting longer in bed, enjoying different sex acts, or having more intense orgasms.
Others said cannabis helped lower their inhibitions, feel less shame, and be more intimate with their partners.
The researchers said cannabis could be a helpful sexual tool, especially in place of more dangerous and addictive drugs like meth.
People who experience anxiety and shame during sex could find benefits in using cannabis in the bedroom, according to a new study.
The small study, which was published May 28 in the journal Culture, Health & Sexuality, involved interviews with 41 men who were between 15 and 30 years old, and who didn’t identify as straight. Three of the men were transgender, 36 were cisgender, and the remainder didn’t identify with a particular gender.
The researchers interviewed these men for up to two hours about their experiences using cannabis during sex within the past year. They found that the majority of participants said that using cannabis before sex increased sexual pleasure and lowered their inhibitions, and that the substance also helped them to feel less anxious and therefore be more intimate during sex.
According to the researchers, their findings suggest cannabis could be a helpful tool for men of sexual minorities and struggle with sex stigma-related anxiety.
“In other words, the sexualized use of cannabis can help sexual and gender minority men overcome feelings of anxiety and shame resulting from internalized homophobia, biphobia and/or transphobia, so that they can more fully enjoy the sex they want,” the researchers wrote for The Conversation.
Cannabis helped some of the men enjoy anal sex more
In interviewing the 41 men, the researchers found that many liked using cannabis during sex because it increased feelings of physical pleasure and made pleasurable sexual experiences that had previously been unenjoyable.
“I’ve been having anal sex for, like, probably a decade, but until very, very, very recently while having an edible [i.e. ingesting cannabis], I’ve never actually liked it… It’s never been better than a six out of ten,” one study participant told the researchers.
“I’m actually enjoying this for like the first time, solidly, like a nine out of ten [after taking the edible]! And then the next time I had sex without an edible, I was enjoying it as an eight out of ten. I’m like, ‘Huh?!’ So it changed something in me.”
Others said cannabis helped them to last longer in bed, or that it made typically pleasurable sensations even more pleasurable.
“I remember when I was in high school and I would have a classic routine,” another study participant told the researchers. “I would get high, I would jerk off. The best orgasms that I’ve ever had was while being high.”
Others said cannabis allowed them to feel more emotionally intimate with their sex partners
The men in the study said using cannabis also affected their emotions about sex.
For gay, bisexual, and transgender men, sexual stigma can prevent them from letting their guards down during sex, but many said cannabis helped lower their inhibitions and become more intimate with their partners.
One study participant, for example, said he grew up in a conservative town and didn’t realize until he went to college in a more liberal area that he was gay.
“And I think that I carry a lot of guilt and shame about that. That is quite unfortunate,” he said.
When a researcher asked him if cannabis helped him to let go of those feelings of guilt and shame during sex, he said it did.
“And then [after sex] as well. Like, that’s when I would feel ashamed normally. But if you’re under some sort of substance then you, you know, even afterwards you feel okay,” he said.
Other respondents said using cannabis during sex helped them to be less judgmental towards themselves and other non-straight people, and that it also quelled anxiety around STI transmission.
The small nature of the study, and its focus on non-straight men from one particular region, mean that the results may not be applicable to the entire population. Nonetheless, the researchers believe their findings offer insights into how cannabis can improve people’s sex lives.
Cannabis could be a therapeutic sex tool
The researchers concluded the cannabis could be a tool for helping people, especially marginalized groups, overcome sex stigma and improve their sex lives.
[Canniseur: This is the 2nd study we’ve published in the last 10 days that shows cannabis users having less anxiety. This one also shows cannabis users as having better sleep. I can second that notion. I sleep better after I’ve smoked and it sure beats other stronger pharmaceutical drugs I’ve taken in the past. YAY Cannabis!!!!! YAY SLEEP!!!!!!!]
Cannabis users that participated in a study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research reported having less anxiety, better sleep, and using fewer prescription drugs while using cannabis as a therapeutic.
The 2-year study had participants submit online surveys every three months to report changes to their health conditions, Newsweek reported. Common health ailments among participants were chronic pain, anxiety, PTSD, depression, and epilepsy.
Compared to a control group, the marijuana users reported a better quality of life and having more satisfaction with their health.
“Of note, most participants in this study were using cannabis for health conditions other than the FDA-approved [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] uses of CBD or THC, and for which effective doses have not been determined in controlled clinical trials,” the authors noted. “These include THC for weight loss in AIDS patients, and nausea and vomiting in cancer patients having chemotherapy; or CBD for the rare forms of epilepsy known as Dravet and Lennox/Gastaut syndromes.”
58% of participants took cannabidiol (CBD) at an average daily dose of 79 mg, while others used tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at an average daily dose of 3 mg.
“When we evaluated people before and after using medical cannabis, and then saw the exact same changes seen in the cross-sectional comparison between cannabis users and controls, that’s when we knew we had a compelling validation showing actual medical benefit,” the authors said.
[Canniseur: This seems like a legitimate study, but as the article says…we already knew! This is an important study for several reasons. There’s another study recently published by the American Cancer Society that all alcohol is bad for you. It doesn’t mention cannabis as being bad for you. It’s interesting that I follow almost all the guidelines and have for years. I’ve also had cancer. Go figure.]
Hundreds of research studies have already reported that medical cannabis can effectively treat specific medical conditions including chronic pain, epilepsy, anxiety, and depression — and even slow the growth of cancer. While studies on these specific use-cases continue, the researchers for this report chose to focus on the broader picture instead of specifics.
“Despite widespread legalization, the impact of medicinal cannabis use on patient level health and quality of life has not been carefully evaluated,” the study authors explain. “The objective of this study was to characterize self-reported demographics, health characteristics, quality of life, and health care utilization of Cannabis Users compared with Controls.”
To conduct the study, researchers used ongoing web-based surveys to determine the overall health and well-being of medical marijuana users and non-users between April 2016 and February 2018. Researchers recruited 1,276 subjects who were either registered caregivers or patients suffering from at least one diagnosed health condition. Each of these patients was registered with the Realm of Caring Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to medicinal cannabis research and education.
Out of the subject pool, 808 of the subjects used medical marijuana or low-THC hemp products, while the remaining 468 subjects did not. Each subject was asked to self-assess their quality of life, pain, sleep, anxiety, and depression, as well as to report their ongoing use of non-cannabis medications. Subjects were then asked to respond to follow-up surveys every three months after the initial survey. Only one-third of subjects completed all of the follow-up surveys, however.
An analysis of the data revealed that medical cannabis users reported significantly better quality of life, greater health satisfaction, improved sleep, and a lower average pain severity than non-users. They were also significantly less depressed and anxious than the control group. Cannabis users also reported using fewer prescription medications, and were less likely to have been admitted to the hospital in the month prior to the survey.
“This study shows clearly that cannabinoids have a very positive effect on health outcomes across the board among all age groups and demographics,” said Jonathan Hoggard, PhD, CEO of Realm of Caring, to Grit Daily. “This publication will be the first of many based on the detailed findings of this extensive data set. Perhaps the most dramatic finding in this study was that medicinal cannabis use was associated with 39 percent fewer ER visits and 46 percent fewer hospital admissions.”
The study authors were able to find the most noticeable impact among subjects who were not using medical marijuana at the start of the trial, but began using these treatments in the midst of the study. After they began using medical cannabis, these subjects reported health and well-being improvements over their initial surveys.
“People felt better when they started [consuming cannabis],” said lead researcher Ryan Vandrey, PhD, associate professor in the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, to Grit Daily. “That is a powerful signal.” Vandrey also noted that some of the subjects said they had previously been using a prescription medicine to treat their illness, but that cannabis was able to provide the same relief with fewer side-effects.
[Canniseur: As a consumer of cannabis for decades, I can honestly and unequivocally say that cannabis has improved my life quality. I’m not a wake and bake kind of consumer, but I do appreciate the quality of life improvements it brings. Other than an increased sense of well being, cannabis does help me sleep, eases the aches and pains after working out or walking in rugged terrain (not going to the gym during the “Days of COVID”), lowered anxiety…especially now…and too many other benefits to write about in a small commentary on a bigger story.]
A nonprofit organization dedicated to therapeutic cannabis research and education known as the Realm of Caring Foundation, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, has been diligently collecting data from cannabis users and non-users alike over the past 4 years for purposes of evaluating the impact of medicinal cannabis use on patient-level health and quality of life.
A web-based study enrolled 1,276 participants (including those already using a cannabis product and those considering its use) between April 2016 and February 2018.
Of the 1,276 participants, 524 adult patients and 284 adult caregivers of children or dependent adults, all self-reported using cannabis for medicinal purposes. The control group consisted of 271 adult patients who were considering cannabis use, and 197 adult caregivers who were considering it for a dependent child or adult patient.
All of the participants self-reported that they or their dependent patient had a diagnosed health condition at the time of the baseline assessment. Primary conditions included neurological diseases such as MS and epilepsy, chronic pain from autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia, back pain, cancer, insomnia, and psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
The research findings of the study, entitled “A Cross-Sectional and Prospective Comparison of Medicinal Cannabis Users and Controls on Self-Reported Health,” was published this week in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, Volume X, Number X, 2020.
Fifty-eight percent of patients used CBD-dominant products. By comparison, THC-dominant products were used by 13%, balanced THC/CBD products by 5%, and products in which the highest concentration was a minor cannabinoid, such as cannabigerol (CBG) or cannabinol (CBN), by 3% of cannabis users. Many participants (21%) did not know or did not specify the chemotype of the cannabis products they used.
The results of the study found that cannabis users self-reported having a significantly better quality of life in several areas of their lives, e.g., improved sleep, less pain, less hospital and ER visits, less seizures, reduced anxiety and depression. Further, members of the control group who initiated cannabis use after baseline showed significant health improvements at follow-up.
[Canniseur: This is kind of counter-intuitive. I would think that if I ingested more THC through my lungs, I would get a bigger buzz. Apparently, from this study, this is not the case. So if higher THC levels in my blood don’t mean I’m higher, then what do they mean? This is a good neurobehavioral study and I’d certainly like to see more like it. It’s 2020 and we don’t really know what high means yet!]
High-potency marijuana concentrates on today’s legal markets can contain upwards of 90 percent THC, so one might reasonably expect them to pack a greater psychoactive punch than typical flower, which tops out around 30 percent.
But that may not be the case, according to a new study out of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Researchers found that while THC blood levels spiked after users consumed concentrates, impairment levels didn’t significantly differ from participants who used flower.
“Surprisingly, we found that potency did not track with intoxication levels,” said lead author Cinnamon Bidwell, an assistant professor in CU’s Institute of Cognitive Science. “While we saw striking differences in blood levels between the two groups, they were similarly impaired.”
The study, published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, involved 121 Colorado adults who were regular marijuana consumers. Participants were randomly assigned to consume either relatively low-THC marijuana flower, which ranged from 16-24 percent THC, or higher-potency concentrates, which ranged from 70-90 percent. At various points, researchers tested participants’ blood plasma THC levels, surveyed their mood and subjected them to an array of neurobehavioral tasks meant to test attention, memory, inhibitory control and balance.
Researchers used a mobile pharmacology lab they dubbed the “cannavan” to study participants’ cannabis while complying with federal law, the University of Colorado said.
“Most neurobehavioral measures were not altered by short-term cannabis consumption,” the study found. “However, delayed verbal memory and balance function were impaired after use. Differing outcomes for the type of product (flower vs concentrate) or potency within products were not observed.” Impairment faded after about an hour.
“Despite differences in THC exposure, flower and concentrate users showed similar neurobehavioral patterns after acute cannabis use.”
A University of Colorado at Boulder press release calls the paper “the first to assess the acute impact of cannabis among real-world users of legal market products” and says the findings “could inform everything from roadside sobriety tests to decisions about personal recreational or medicinal use.”
Lawmakers and police departments who assume higher THC blood levels correlate with greater impairment, for example, may need to re-educate themselves on how to measure impaired driving. Consumers hoping that high-THC products will mean more mind-blowing highs, on the other hand, may ultimately be putting that extra THC—and the money spent on it—to waste.
“It raises a lot of questions about how quickly the body builds up tolerance to cannabis and whether people might be able to achieve desired results at lower doses,” Bidwell said.
Via the University of Colorado at Boulder.
As more states have opened legal marijuana markets, high-potency concentrates have become more widely available. Critics of marijuana legalization, as well as some health experts, have worried that those products could unleash health hazards on both individual users and broader society. While the University of Colorado paper doesn’t answer questions about potential long-term side effects of THC exposure, its findings indicate short-term impacts of concentrates don’t necessarily warrant additional concern.
“People in the high concentration group were much less compromised than we thought they were going to be,” said co-author Kent Hutchison, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU Boulder who also studies alcohol addiction. “If we gave people that high a concentration of alcohol it would have been a different story.”
One reason that higher THC blood levels didn’t translate to higher highs could be that the body’s finite number of cannabinoid receptors, which THC molecules bind to, become saturated regardless of whether higher- or lower-THC products are used. Any excess THC in consumers’ blood plasma, in that case, would be metabolized and not contribute to further impairment.
“Cannabinoid receptors may become saturated with THC at higher levels,” the study says, “beyond which there is a diminishing effect of THC.”
That’s not to forget the “striking differences in blood levels” the study observed between the two groups of participants. Researchers cautioned that while short-term effects of higher-potency cannabis consumption don’t seem to differ much from more traditional methods, we still don’t know much about how elevated cannabinoid levels affect health over time.
“Does long-term, concentrated exposure mess with your cannabinoid receptors in a way that could have long-term repercussions?” asked Hutchison. “Does it make it harder to quit when you want to? We just don’t know yet.”
The controversy—and uncertainty—around how cannabis affects driver safety has long been a sticking point for legalization. And given the ongoing difficulty in associating THC levels with impairment, it’s unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
As legalization spreads, however, more and more studies are examining marijuana-related impairment. A study published last year found that drivers who tested at the legal limit in many states (2-5 nanograms THC per milliliter of blood) were statistically no more likely to cause a crash than people who had not consumed cannabis, concluding that “the impact of cannabis on road safety is relatively small at present time.”
Earlier this month, Democratic leadership in a House committee introduced a bill that would require states with legal cannabis programs to consider creating programs “to educate drivers on the risks associated with marijuana-impaired driving and to reduce injuries and deaths resulting from individuals driving motor vehicles while impaired by marijuana.”
“Although laboratory studies have shown that marijuana consumption can affect a person’s response times and motor performance,” the Congressional Research Service wrote, “studies of the impact of marijuana consumption on a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash have produced conflicting results, with some studies finding little or no increased risk of a crash from marijuana usage.”
Marijuana grower Sunshine Johnston of Sunboldt Grown smells Skywalker OG terpenes at her farm in Redcrest, California, on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. | Photo: Connor Radnovich
[Canniseur: Terrific article about what terpenes are and how they enhance and inform us about the strain we’re smelling. Terpenes are prevalent in many aromas we smell in our foods and about everything else that has an aroma. Terpenes are essential to cannabis and we’re just beginning to find out that there is an entourage effect involving all the different kinds of THCs, CBDs and all the other compounds in the fragrant reed plant.]
Cannabis’ smell — it’s something you either love or hate. Few people have a neutral opinion of the pungent plant’s distinctive odors. The word “cannabis” comes from the Hebrew word kneh-bosm, which literally means “aromatic reed.”
But where do these aromatics come from? Why are they there? What exactly are they? And why are they important? Read on to better understand the world of terpenes.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are the aromatic components of the cannabis plant’s essential oils and they play an important therapeutic role. Terpenes are very small, volatile molecules created by the cannabis plant as an evolutionary adaptation to simultaneously attract and repel certain insects and animals.
According to one study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2011, “Terpenoids are quite potent, and affect animal and even human behaviour when inhaled from ambient air. They display unique therapeutic effects that may contribute to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts.”
The aromas and flavors of any given cannabis strain also depend on which terpenes predominate. Terpenes are one of the chief differentiators between different strains of cannabis (Journal of Natural Products, 2016). Terpenes are common throughout the plant world, and while cannabis can create about 1,000 of them, we’ve catalogued about 20,000 in nature. Some terpenes present in wine like linalool are also present in cannabis. More than 60 percent of cannabis buyers use smell to help make their purchase, and the terpenes is what they are smelling for. The word “terpene” comes from the root word “turpentine”, which refers to the pungent resin extracted from the terebinth tree found in the Mediterranean since ancient times.
Why does cannabis make terpenes?
We think cannabis creates terpenes to deter predators like insects and mammals, who are often repulsed by the strong odor of terpenes in cannabis. According to a landmark study, “limonene and pinene in flowers … are repellent to insects (Nerio et al., 2010), while lower fan leaves express higher concentrations of bitter sesquiterpenoids that act as anti-feedants for grazing animals.”
For the last couple thousand years, humans have selected cannabis in part for its terpene production.
Why should I care about terpenes?
In addition to THC, CBD and the other cannabinoids, terpenes play an important part in the overall effects of cannabis and provide additional therapeutic effects aside from the desirable “high” or “stoned” feeling.
Leading cannabis horticulture author Ed Rosenthal has said, “If THC is the engine, terpenes are the steering wheel.” They shape and control the high of THC. Interestingly, some terpenes are thought to act as an antidote to acute THC intoxication. The most promising terpenes to try if you get too high are those found in lemons, black pepper, pine nuts and calamus plant roots.
The multitude of terpenes found in cannabis also provide countless flavor and aroma combinations. Each strain produces its own unique fusion of terps to provide its signature palette of sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, and/or savory aromas and flavors.
Sixty percent of cannabis users make purchases based on smell. | Photo: Noah Berger
What medical effects do the most common terpenes in cannabis have?
Lab, cell, animal and scant human trials have yielded a lot of data about what terpenes might do.
Alpha-pinene is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and memory-enhancing effects.
Limonene can act as a stimulant and may help treat depression, it also has been found to cause breast cancer cells to commit suicide, as well as help control stress, and gastric reflux. (Russo, 2011).
Linalool, also found in lavender, offers sedative effects and may treat skin burns without scarring. It’s a local anesthetic.
The terpene Myrcene, also found in the hops— a cousin of the pot plant— also has a sedative effect but can also offer ant-inflammatory and pain relief.
The terpene Nerolidol is an anti-fungal, anti-malarial, and has sedative properties. The list goes on and on.
However, more research needs to confirm these findings. “Scientific investigation of the therapeutic application of terpenoids in psychiatry has been hampered by methodological concerns, subjective variability of results and a genuine dearth of appropriate randomized controlled studies of high quality,” Russo found in 2011.
All the chemical compounds found in cannabis (cannabinoids and terpenes) are encased within the tiny, crystal-like structures seen on the surface of the bud called trichomes. The amount and quality of terpenes in a plant depends on how well it is grown (Journal of Natural Products, 2016).
Where else are terpenes found in nature?
Nearly 20,000 terpenoid compounds have been found in all types of plant life. They occur naturally in everything from fruits and vegetables to flowers and trees.
What are the most common terpenes in cannabis?
More than 1,000 terpenes have been identified in cannabis, but only a handful appear in significant amounts that can be noticed through smell and taste alone.
One of the most common terpenes is alpha-pinene, which is also found in pine needles, and another common terpene limonene is also found in lemons. Together, these terpenes give most Kush strains their signature lemony-pine smell and taste.
The amount of terpenes and cannabinoids present in a cannabis sample ( its “chemotype”) will likely replace old school folk taxonomies of strain names, followed by indica-sativa-hybrid classification. You can figure which chemotype you prefer by looking up the terpene profiles of your favorite strains, and the ones you hate.
For example, Blue Dream is uniquely high in Nerolidol and α-Bisabolol. By contrast, OG Kush is relatively high in pinene and myrcene. Grand Daddy Purple is relatively high in linalool.
How do I preserve my terpenes?
Properly storing your buds is crucial to keeping them fresh and flavorful for a long time. Light, heat, and low or high humidity will destroy terpenes and thus diminish its flavor profiles. Poor storage is what makes good bud go bad, but thankfully it’s pretty easy to keep them fresh and tasty: don’t use baggies, store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. And don’t handle the buds too much other than pulling them out from the jar right before you’re ready to use them. Also, most people use an herb grinder to grind their cannabis before putting it in a joint, or pipe. Make sure to use all ground cannabis promptly, as it begins losing its terpenes to the air immediately.
Shop at places that put a focus on terpene preservation — it’s your money and medicine you smell evaporating into the air. Appreciating terpenes is the same as savoring a high-quality glass of wine or a cigar.
Extracts of cannabis can boost or reduce the amount of terpenes depending on the extraction method. For example, CO2 extraction destroys most terpenes due to the relatively high temperatures involved (Planta Medica, 2017).
How do I learn more about terpenes?
You can research terpenes on medical literature indexes like PubMed and Google Scholar. A handy guide to the most popular terpenes, what they smell like and potential therapeutic uses comes from Dr. Ethan Russo “Taming THC”.
Dan Michaels is the author of “Green: A Pocket Guide to Pot” (2017)
[Cannisuer: Learn about the different distillation processes used to make CBD. They say knowledge is power. In this case, the pros and cons of each distillation process is not covered. ]
The distillation process that CBD undergoes in order to obtain CBD isolate is often up to a manufacturer’s preferences, and there is not a lot of evidence that one distillation process is necessarily better than other commonly used distillation processes. Due to this, not many manufacturers even disclose what distillation process(es) that they use in the creation of their CBD isolate and their manufacturing of CBD products that use CBD isolate, but we will still quickly cover some of the most commonly used CBD distillation processes in order to provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of what goes into the manufacturing of CBD products:
Winterization: This is the process to remove undesirable elements that were extracted from the plant; some examples include: fats, natural waxes, and lipids. This process is only needed when the oil was extracted at high pressure and at a high temperature (which is known as supercritical extraction) because this intense extraction pulls everything from the plant, including — most importantly — material(s) that you don’t want in the final product. Once extracted, the mixture is combined with 200% proof alcohol and is then stirred vigorously until it is completely mixed. It’s then placed in a deep freezer for a period of at least 24 hours. After this freezing period, the mixture will have a cloudy look to it, and it is ready for the filtration process;
Short Path Distillation: This technique is often used for compounds which are unstable at high temperatures or in order to purify small amounts of the desired compound. The advantage of this distillation process is that the heating temperature of the product can be considerably lower (at reduced pressure) than the boiling point of the liquid or oil at standard pressure, and the distillate only has to travel a very short distance before condensing;
Fractional Distillation: This is the separation of a mixture into its different component parts, which are known as fractions. Chemical compounds are separated by heating them to a temperature at which one — or more fraction — of the mixture will vaporize. It uses distillation to fractionate, which is a separation process in which a certain quantity of a mixture (either gas, solid, liquid, enzymes, suspension, or an isotope mixture; in this case of CBD isolates it is the solid plant parts) is divided, into a group of smaller overall quantities;
Continuous Wipe Film Distillation: This is an ongoing separation in which a mixture is continuously fed into the process without any interruptions and separated fractions are removed continuously as outputs, removing them from the desired end product;
Batch Distillation: The use of distillation in groups or batches, meaning that a mixture is distilled to separate it into its component fractions before the distillation still is again charged with more mixture and the process is repeated. This is in direct contrast to continuous distillation described above;
Vacuum Distillation: This is a method of distillation performed under reduced pressure, which lowers the boiling point of most liquids. This technique is most commonly used when the boiling point of the desired compound (the CBD isolate) is difficult to achieve or will cause the compound to decompose or degrade, or even simply to save energy in heating.
[Canniseur: Sometimes we’ve just got to publish a story that sends us into gales of laughter. This is one of those stories, especially the last sentence. If this is true, does it matter?]
A recent study from Harvard Medical School found that trace amounts of THC metabolites were detected in semen samples from frequent cannabis users. However, some samples did not test positive for substantive amounts of THC, which stumped researchers.
The study, published several weeks ago in Reproductive Physiology and Disease, was conducted by scientists at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery. The study looked at semen samples from 12 “healthy” males who reported that they were “chronic and heavy users of inhaled cannabis.”
The study didn’t just look at THC and the primary THC metabolite, 11-OH-THC, in semen samples. It also assessed THC and metabolite levels in the subjects’ blood and urine. All urine samples contained detectable amounts of THC and 11-OH-THC, which confirmed that the subjects had consumed cannabis. Yet only two of the semen samples contained THC and metabolites above the reporting level of 0.5 ng/mL: at “0.97 nanograms per milliliter and 0.87 ng/mL,” Marijuana Moment reported.
Researchers were unsure why only two samples showed THC above the reporting level, in other words, at values high enough for chemists to reliably declare, There’s definitely weed in this seed. Possibly, THC does not readily enter the testes as it does urine or the blood. The small number of participants may have given the researchers a bad batch of samples, too.
In addition, if those ng/mL values look like a foreign language to you, they indicate that only incredibly tiny amounts of THC will pass the blood-testis barrier, a membrane that keeps contaminants in the bloodstream from damaging the little fellas swimming around inside of the testicles. Some studies suggest that cannabis use can impair sperm motility, though other studies have not found conclusive evidence that cannabis use actually affects virility or fertility. In other words, there’s little to no evidence that weed compromises a couple’s ability to naturally have babies.
Furthermore, less than 1.0 ng/mL of THC in semen is barely any THC at all. In most cases, blood samples will show 20 ng/mL of THC immediately after someone takes a rip off a pipe. And if you’re wondering if you can get your partner lit AF with a blowjob, that’s not happening either.
A nanogram is one millionth of a milligram, as in, it takes one million nanograms to make just one milligram. The standard minimum dose of THC that can cause heady effects (in low-tolerance users) is generally considered to be 5 milligrams. Twenty nanograms doesn’t even come close to this dose.
So, what’s the ultimate takeaway here? First, cops, courts, and employers won’t be asking for semen samples to see if you’ve been smoking weed. It’s much easier to test for cannabis use through saliva, blood, or urine samples for, uh, obvious reasons.
Second, this study provides some minute evidence that cannabis use could compromise sperm health or virility, but a lot more research is still needed regarding THC and baby-making.
And third, please don’t cite this study to try and elicit oral sex from a partner. That’s just downright skeezy.