New research reveals that cannabis use between couples increases might benefit their relationship, in the bedroom and beyond.
“We found robust support for these positive effects within two hours of when couples use marijuana together or in the presence of their partner,” says Maria Testa, a social psychologist at the University at Buffalo and the study’s lead author. “The findings were the same for both the male and female partners.”
What they call “intimacy events” include demonstrations of love, caring and support.
For the study, Testa and her colleagues found 183 married or cohabitating heterosexual couples that had been living together more than six months, with at least one partner who uses cannabis a minimum of twice a week. Participants were between 18 and 30-years-old, and had no history of mental illness or addiction.
During a month-long period, each partner independently reported instances of cannabis use and intimacy events in real time via their smartphones. Researchers limited events attributable to the drugs to a two hour window after the fact, according to previous studies showing that cannabis’ effects diminish after about two or three hours.
A separate paper by Testa using the same sample group also showed a slight increase in conflict following cannabis use, but those effects were marginal compared to the positive events. She hopes results of both reports will help inform medical practitioners with patients who use the drug habitually.
“If you’re a treatment provider it’s going to be difficult to get people to reduce or stop their use entirely because these couples see marijuana as something positive in their relationship,” says Testa. “To ignore that is to make it more difficult for people to change their behavior.”
Testa has extensively studied how alcohol effects romantic relationships, and later expanded her research into cannabis, which has not yet been investigated through this lens. The current study is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and appears in the journal Cannabis.
“I’ve studied alcohol as a predictor of intimate partner aggression for years,” she says. “Because alcohol is related to aggression in general, it’s not surprising to find that aggressive effect in the domain of relationships.”
She thinks there are too many presumptions made about how pot affects relationships.
“We need to know about the effects of marijuana use, instead of merely assuming what those effects may be,” says Testa, also adding, “There is very little research on the immediate consequences of marijuana use and intimacy, so this study fills an important gap in the literature.”