In American culture, as cannabis rapidly becomes legal, more and more couples are quite naturally exploring what happens when they get high together. How in psychological fact does grass impact a relationship - and how can this impact be mindfully guided in order to maximize positive effects?
I had to outright laugh when I first heard that Coors is thinking of infusing its beer with THC, as if grass is no more disruptive and transformative than beer. The opposite is the case: THC, the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis, is without question a powerful mental and emotional force that can evoke transformation for each and every couple that chooses to get high together.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, I just celebrated my fiftieth anniversary of the first time I got high, way back at Princeton. That was a tense dorm situation where we were all so paranoid that the university proctors would catch us, that our first experience with hashish was, to say the least, a bit anxious. Now anybody, at least here in California, can go online and order a whole assortment of cannabis products, to be delivered right to your door - with no legal worries at all. Couples can very easily explore whatever is fated to happen when they blast off together into new high places.
But - is this progress? Have we won the long-fought old-time hippie battle for the freedom to blow our minds whenever we want to? And will this freedom lead to a bright sustainable future for our kids and grand kids?
I'm focusing these days on how cannabis impacts deep relationships because, after all, sexually-bonded couples are still the foundation of human society. If we disrupt this basic dyad bond, with anything at all, we're in serious danger of ruining thousands of years of cultural evolution.
Let's honestly face the question: how does grass alter the way in which we relate with our intimate partner? And is this alteration ultimately a good idea, or an erosion of the roots of family? I'm just now writing a whole book on this topic, and the theme keeps getting deeper as I explore it. Here's a beginning overview.
Decades ago, the professor Charles Tart, Charlie to his friends, did a comprehensive survey study of cannabis use, and concluded that indeed, the effects of grass are multidimensional and mostly quite positive. All research since that initial study at U.C. Davis have supported his findings. When high, people in general are more tolerant, open-minded, peaceful and cooperative. They become less inhibited, and temporarily free from many programmed attitudes and reactions. They risk more when relating, expose their authentic selves more readily, and relax into intimacy with more vulnerability and emotional engagement. And yes, more often than not, grass evokes a great wild sexual passion that couples just love.
THE CANNABIS TRADE-OFF
The obvious downsides of being high with someone are also becoming clear: they include a fixation on present-moment sensations as opposed to being logically oriented; a tendency to lose touch with short-term memory; and also the tendency of getting lost in interior experience and thus dropping out of social intercourse. We can become overly talkative and fixated on our own flow of ideas and ignore our partner entirely. And we can be so engrossed in our inner realms that we're downright inconsiderate, based on normal social expectations. We can also seem unmotivated, vague, distant, and sometimes emotionally distraught.
No one can be aware of everything all the time, of course. Grass shifts our focus of attention out of habitual patterns. We let go, move with the associative flow - and just 'be' in the present unfolding moment. When we get high with our intimate partner, there's always going to be a trade-off - what we gain in surrendering to the cannabis muse must be balanced by what we lose.
Becoming aware of the elements of this trade-off is important, in order for couples using cannabis to thrive rather than falter. I have indeed known couples to fall apart when they include marijuana in their relating. On the other hand, in a large majority of cases, I've seen cannabis awaken and expand intimate relationships. Each couple opens an unknown experience-portal when they get high together. My personal observation is that in most cases, the results of entering this portal are good, a pleasure, rewarding and yes, often challenging.
THE DYAD EXPERIENCE
Getting high is now legally a right in many states - and it's also a clear responsibility. Back when I was first using grass fifty years ago, it was usually very weak - we were literally smoking leaves, and bud wasn't even a term in our hippie dialect. Unless we could find some hashish, we weren't getting very high compared to these days. Now we regularly partake of a heavy dose of THC, and shift into psychological realms that can induce major alterations in mood, perspective, intent, compassion, judgment, and so forth.
And of course, this shift will impact how we relate intimately. One person getting stoned alone is very different from two people getting high together. I've identified seven different types of shared experience that are very often stimulated when lovers or close friends get high together. In the next month or so I'll be discussing each of these in turn here, and in more depth in my forthcoming couples-cannabis book. Becoming more conscious and mindful of how we approach each of these seven alternate ways of relating when high seems very important.
WHAT TO DO
For now - if you're already getting high with your lover, what would you include on your list of the different ways you relate when high? And if you're considering using grass as a new experience with your partner, what's your motivation for doing this? What type of intimate experience are you hoping to expand further into, by using grass to heighten your interaction?
I'm currently working on a new book exploring the best approaches for couples using cannabis to enhance their intimate experience on many levels. More coming soon ... toward the higher good!