JOINT RE­LA­TION­SHIPS BLOOM

Cannabis com­pat­i­bil­ity looks to re­shape the dat­ing scene, many ex­perts are pre­dict

Windsor Star - - YOU - AD­INA BRESGE

For Steven Bis­son, an ideal date night con­sists of a quiet night at home, a bag of Dori­tos and some cannabis to set the mood. Bis­son, a 50-year-old med­i­cal mar­i­juana user in Toronto, said his part­ner had lit­tle ex­po­sure to cannabis when they first met two years ago. It was an is­sue that had doomed sev­eral of Bis­son’s past re­la­tion­ships. He said he had bro­ken up with part­ners, and been dumped him­self, over what he per­ceived to be a lack of tol­er­ance re­gard­ing his cannabis use. In his cur­rent re­la­tion­ship, how­ever, Bis­son said spark­ing up with his sig­nif­i­cant other on week­ends brought them closer to­gether. “You can be a lit­tle bit more open, and that could lead to a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship,” said Bis­son. “The sex, he loves. With­out go­ing into any de­tail, he says sex is so much bet­ter on mar­i­juana than with­out it.” As le­gal­iza­tion looms on Oct. 17, ex­perts say cannabis com­pat­i­bil­ity may take on a larger role in the world of ro­mance. Flor­ida-based cannabis-friendly so­cial net­work­ing app High There!, which has been touted as the “Tin­der for tok­ers,” is look­ing to ex­pand its dig­i­tal foot­print in Canada to cater to what founder and CEO Dar­ren Roberts sees as an un­der­served co­hort of el­i­gi­ble 4-20 en­thu­si­asts. On tra­di­tional dat­ing sites, said Roberts, cannabis use is of­ten con­sid­ered a ro­man­tic non-starter — much like how some sin­gles swear off dat­ing cig­a­rette smok­ers, but com­pounded by the stigma of decades of pro­hi­bi­tion. High There! of­fers cannabis users a judg­ment-free plat­form where they can make con­nec­tions, be it find­ing a smoke buddy, that spe­cial some­one or even a spouse, said Roberts. (Il­le­gal trans­ac­tions be­tween deal­ers and buy­ers, how­ever, are strictly pro­hib­ited, he said.) Char­lot­te­town-based cou­ple Vanessa-Lyn Mercier, 28, and Sean Ber­ri­gan, 29, credit their shared pas­sion for cannabis with al­low­ing their part­ner­ship to flour­ish in both love and busi­ness. In ad­di­tion to work­ing to­gether as wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers, Mercier and Ber­ri­gan also co-cu­rate the @Highlove­club In­sta­gram ac­count, which largely fea­tures gauzy glam­our shots of the pair smok­ing up on the rust-stained beaches of P.E.I. When they first met four years ago, Mercier said she frowned upon Ber­ri­gan’s use of medic­i­nal cannabis. But about a year into dat­ing, she be­gan fac­ing her own health is­sues, which were tak­ing a toll on their re­la­tion­ship, so she took her first puff. Mercier said she went from be­ing couch-rid­den with pain to danc­ing around her liv­ing room. The plant also stoked her cre­ative pas­sions, she said, and she de­cided to aban­don her ca­reer in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try to fol­low Ber­ri­gan in pur­su­ing pho­tog­ra­phy. “If cannabis wasn’t there ... I don’t know if we’d even be to­gether,” said Ber­ri­gan.

There can also be ben­e­fits of bring­ing bud into the be­d­room, said An­tu­anette Gomez, the Toronto-based founder and CEO of Plea­sure Peaks, which of­fers cannabis prod­ucts aimed at im­prov­ing women’s sex­ual health. The po­tency of cannabis as an aphro­disiac traces back to the mil­len­nia-old prac­tice of tantric sex, said Gomez. “We all re­act to cannabis very dif­fer­ently, but when we’re shar­ing that to­gether, it re­ally does heighten your sense of arousal ...” she said.

But bring­ing any sub­stance into a re­la­tion­ship comes with ro­man­tic risks and ben­e­fits, said Uni­ver­sity of Al­berta so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Geraint Os­borne.

In a 2005-2006 sur­vey of 41 Cana­dian cannabis users, Os­borne found that bud can lead to mixed suc­cess in the be­d­room, par­tic­u­larly when ap­petites turn to­ward the fridge, send­ing ston­ers to sleep with a full stom­ach. In some cases, said Os­borne, it has even been known to cause “per­for­mance anx­i­ety,” and stud­ies have linked ex­ces­sive cannabis use to lower lev­els of testos­terone.

If used re­spon­si­bly, cannabis can lead to bet­ter un­der­stand­ing among cou­ples, said Os­borne. But when it comes to cannabis abuse, he said the con­se­quences for a re­la­tion­ship can be se­vere.

“If they are spend­ing all of their time just get­ting high ... then they’re just not fo­cus­ing on the im­por­tant parts of their life, in­clud­ing re­la­tion­ships.”

Even with­out abuse is­sues, a dif­fer­ence in at­ti­tudes to­ward cannabis can put im­mense strain on a re­la­tion­ship, said Os­borne, and not all cou­ples make it.

Like most as­pects of a re­la­tion­ship, said Gomez, a cou­ple’s chances of suc­cess will come down to their abil­ity to “com­pro­mise.” “When it comes to cannabis, and since we’re le­gal­iz­ing it so quickly, there will be a def­i­nite shift,” she said. “I be­lieve that re­la­tion­ships, true re­la­tion­ships, will have the com­mu­ni­ca­tion to fig­ure that out.”

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Char­lot­te­town-based cou­ple Vanessa-Lyn Mercier, 28, and Sean Ber­ri­gan, 29, credit their shared pas­sion for cannabis with al­low­ing their part­ner­ship to flour­ish.

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