A new study is among the first to focus on medical marijuana legislation and what impact it has on state residents.
Living in a state with legal medical marijuana could mean you’re more likely to have sex, according to a new study published in the Journal of Health Economics. On the surface, that might appear like a resoundingly positive finding. But researchers warn that such behavior comes with some drawbacks.
Previous studies have demonstrated some connection between cannabis use and increased sexual activity. A 2017 study found that daily marijuana users experience 20% more sex than those who have never used cannabis. But this more recent study is among the first to focus on medical marijuana legislation and what impact that has on state residents.
To better understand the correlation, researchers examined states that legalized medical cannabis between 2005 and 2014. Then, they analyzed how the implementation of these laws affected sexual frequency and fertility among people in their 20s and 30. “We find that [medical marijuana laws] cause an increase in sexual activity,” the researchers concluded.
But the study also found that medical marijuana laws lowered contraceptive use, which led to higher birth rates. More specifically, states with new medical marijuana laws saw a mean increase of 2%, translating into 333 more births per quarter. One blind spot in the study, says David Simon, co-author of the study and assistant economics at the University of Connecticut, is that researchers couldn’t determine whether these individuals were trying to get pregnant or if they just forgot to use contraception.
“On one hand, more of these births occur to non-married partners and we find suggestive evidence of a temporary increase in gonorrhea following the passage of medical marijuana laws,” Simon told Yahoo Lifestyle. “This is consistent with a story of ‘impaired judgement.’”
However, he added, “it is also possible some of these births are due to decreases in chronic pain and increased life satisfaction.”
Researchers also noted that with the introduction of medical marijuana comes new products aimed at improving sexual wellness. Experts have split opinions on whether cannabis is a sexual aid, with some analysts pointing to high-CBD strains as increasing libido and sexual satisfaction more consistently than high-THC strains. A 2019 study concluded that cannabis resulted in higher sex drives in both men and women, while also enhancing orgasms for both sexes.