A new study, published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, authored by researcher Joseph Palamar from New York University investigated the difference between sex while using alcohol or cannabis.

“With marijuana becoming more accepted in the U.S. along with more liberal state-level policies, it is important to examine users’ sexual experiences and sexual risk behavior associated with use to inform prevention and harm reduction,” said Palamar.

The study interviewed 24 self-identified heterosexual men and women (12 of each sex) that had recently used cannabis before sex. The study showed that, while liquor was more likely to be used to facilitate sexual connections, cannabis was much less likely to be associated with atypical partner choice or post-sex regret.

While both substances were linked to decreased inhibitions, alcohol was more likely to lower standards for sexual partners compared to cannabis — where participants said their standards were more “choosy.”

“It wasn’t surprising that alcohol use reportedly led to less post-sex satisfaction than marijuana,” said Palamar. “Participants reported feelings of regret more frequently after sex on alcohol, but compared to alcohol they generally didn’t report poor judgment after using marijuana.”

The study suggests that alcohol use leads to riskier sexual behaviour than cannabis, with partners resulting from alcohol more often strangers, compared to cannabis where partners are largely known to the user due to feelings of anxiety in unfamiliar situations.

“Sexual encounters on marijuana tended to be with someone the individual knew, sex on alcohol was often with a stranger so the situation before sex may be much more important than the drug used.” said Palamar. “Since smoking marijuana recreationally is illegal in most states and smoking it tends to produce a strong odor, it usually has to be used in a private setting. Some individuals utilize such private or intimate situations to facilitate sexual encounters.”

Participants reported higher level of sickness while using alcohol during sex — “nausea, dizziness, feeling sick (and vomiting), and blacking out were commonly reported to be associated with alcohol use.”

Cannabis had fewer ill effects, with those reported largely mental. Participants said that cannabis use reduced their motivation to have sex or distracted them from the experience.

The study also suggested that sex is more pleasurable on cannabis than alcohol, stating that “alcohol tended to numb sensations and marijuana tended to enhance sensations” and cannabis led to “more tender, slow, and compassionate sexual acts, and to involve more sensation and sensuality than alcohol.”

A male participant said that cannabis intensified sex, while alcohol muted it and increased the duration.

One female subject said that sex on alcohol sometimes lasts too long, “when you’re high — it feels so great and it might be a little shorter.”

Both men and women said that cannabis intensified and extended their orgasms, with one female participant saying her climaxes were “magnified at least by five times.”