A new Canadian study has found that cannabis is a safer alternative to traditional ‘chem sex’ drugs, such as methamphetamines.
Chem sex drugs are commonly used by men who identify as gender and sexual minorities, in a practice called ‘party ‘n’ play’. These drugs are designed to lower inhibitions, but unfortunately, they are also linked to higher transmission rates of HIV – making their widespread use dangerous.
However, hemp-based hope is on the horizon.
A new study, published in the Journal of Research, Intervention and Care was carried out by researchers at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use. With assistance from the Canadian Institute for Health Research, researchers conducted hour-long interviews with forty-one young men, examining their chem sex habits.
Initially, the study found cannabis had a positive effect on mental health when used in a sexual situation. According to researchers, participants reported that cannabis increased their sexual pleasure and fostered a greater sense of intimacy with their partner.
However, as cannabis becomes increasingly popular in chem sex, it may play an important role in sexual safety. The study also found that cannabis is a safer alternative than other ‘chem sex’ drugs which commonly include methamphetamine, mephedrone and GHB.
Unlike other chem sex drugs, cannabis is not a key driver of HIV transmission, nor does it cause as many deaths and overdoses as other chem sex drugs.
In Australia, these drugs cause a significant number of our drug-related deaths, while cannabis is considered the 2nd least harmful.
Canadian researchers also concluded that cannabis decreased feelings of shame and anxiety among participants – which are already naturally higher among men who engage in sex with other men.
Discussing the study in Inverse, researchers Natasha Parent and Rod Knight wrote:
Our findings suggest that cannabis may have the potential to be used as a safer alternative to substances typically associated with chemsex, including crystal meth.
This is also consistent with research from the Netherlands, which found that 35% of men who engage in sex with other men have practised chem sex.