Professional sex educator, writer, coach, and facilitator, Ashley Manta is a woman on a mission: to help people mindfully combine cannabis and sex.
As The CannaSexual® sex educator and coach, Ashley hosts workshops, speaks to groups, and offers individual coaching on cannabis and sex. She answered some of our questions about how cannabis can play a role in a healthy and happy sex life.
ELLEMENTA: To get started, we’re curious about how you wound up being an expert at the intersection of cannabis and sex. Of all the potential benefits of using cannabis, we’re not sure a better sex life is the first thing that occurs to us when we think of “cannabis wellness.” Could you tell us a little bit about how CannaSexual came to be?
ASHLEY: CannaSexual was the product of a few things coming together simultaneously. I grew up on the East Coast, and I’ve been doing sexuality education since 2007. My focus was originally on sexual violence prevention and awareness and healing trauma – I worked as a rape crisis counselor, victim advocate, and mental health crisis worker – then shifted to sexual health, pleasure, and body confidence.
In 2013, I moved to Los Angeles and started working full time as a sexuality professional, first as a phone sex operator, then at a pleasure products retailer, and finally going into business for myself in the summer of 2015. Moving to California also meant access to cannabis, so I got my medical card right away and started visiting dispensaries.
Two things quickly became clear to me: First, most budtenders don’t know how to talk to their patients about sex, and second, most sex educators don’t know how to talk to their students/clients about cannabis. I found my niche!
I vowed to learn as much as I could about cannabis and use that knowledge to help people combine sex and cannabis mindfully in their own lives, and to share my knowledge with cannabis professionals and sexuality professionals so that they could have these conversations with their respective audiences.
On a more personal note, as a trauma survivor, I found that cannabis had a powerfully positive impact on my sex life. After I had a pretty hardcore PTSD resurgence in March of 2015, cannabis helped me with my panic attacks and constant anxiety and allowed me to get into my body and enjoy pleasure again during a time of pretty severe sexual despondency. I saw that there were a myriad of ways that cannabis and sex could be combined, and I made it my mission to find and explicate them.
ELLEMENTA: When you work with clients, what do they tend to find most surprising about the combination of cannabis and sex?
The thing my clients tend to find most surprising about combining sex and cannabis is that using cannabis does not have to mean getting high. There are multiple non-psychoactive methods of consumption and many options for products to consume, but most people are unfamiliar with them.
A lot of pushback I receive from folks about sex and cannabis involves something along the lines of “I don’t like the feeling of being high” or “I have kids and I can’t commit to being high for three hours” — both understandable concerns that can be assuaged when I explain that topicals, bath soaks, and CBD products are excellent ways to enjoy the benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects.
I always encourage folks to think outside the stereotype – using cannabis doesn’t have to mean taking massive bong rips or eating that brownie that your friend made that left you high for 12 hours.
ELLEMENTA: It seems like there’s also a role for cannabis in body positivity/confidence when it comes to sex. Could you talk a little bit about that?
I find that cannabis has a profoundly positive impact on the way that I feel about my body. I’m less likely to get caught in the nonstop “you’re not pretty/flexible/etc. enough” stories in my head when I’ve used cannabis to quiet those voices.
I also use cannabis intentionally to help me reframe those types of limiting beliefs that encourage me to hate my body. I will choose a cannabis product that’s going to help me relax and make my body feel good then do an exercise where I look in the mirror and say neutral or nice things about my body. Or I’ll do a gratitude journal about all of the ways I’m thankful for my body.
The idea here is not to get so stoned that you “forget” the things you dislike about your body. This is about mindfully choosing cannabinoid and terpene profiles that will augment the positive changes that you’re setting in motion.
ELLEMENTA: What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about cannabis, or sex, or cannabis and sex together? If there were one idea you could plant in everyone’s head, what would it be?
My golden rules of sex and cannabis are “negotiate before you medicate” and “try it on your own first.” Negotiating before medicating is especially applicable to new partners. Have a conversation about safer sex needs and STI testing, what’s on the menu for sexy fun time activities – do you only want to make out and cuddle or do you want penetration or do you want oral or do you want…?. The goal with mindful cannabis use is to check in with yourself and figure out where you are presently, where you’d like to be, and then choosing an appropriate cannabis product to help you get there.
For instance, if something stressful happened during the day and my body is tense and I’m feeling anxious, but I want to be in the mood for sexy times, I might choose something with high CBD to help my body relax and to counteract some of my anxiety. If I’m feeling sluggish but want to have really frenzied lustful sex, I might choose something that’s more creative and energetic.
Which brings me to my second rule–try it on your own first. You don’t know what effects a product or strain will have on your body before trying it since everyone is different, so it’s important to test things out on your own so you know the effects in advance.
I suggest taking the time with a new product or strain to enjoy it, notice the effects it has on your body, then masturbate and notice those effects too. That way when you use it with a partner, you can isolate variables more readily if something isn’t feeling quite right.