Dexx sat down with Ashley Manta at this year’s DomCon to discuss cannabis, sex, and how it can all come together!
Dexx: You’re an educator, a feminist, you have a blog and interestingly you’re promoting CannaSexuality. So let’s start there. Why don’t you tell me what a CannaSexual™ is.
Ashley: A CannaSexual™ is someone who promotes the idea of mindfully, deliberately combining sex and cannabis to enhance intimacy and promote pleasurable sensations. Me, in other words.
And is this a movement that’s bigger than yourself?
Absolutely. People have been having sex while high for as long as cannabis has existed, so this isn’t a new concept by any means, but the idea of a professional sex educator talking about intentionally combining sex and cannabis has created a bit of a niche for me. I started writing a sex and cannabis column for Leafly.com and a few of my friends have started referring to CannaSexual™ as their sexual orientation. I’ve even started hosting cannabis-friendly play parties and events.
I guess I’m a bit of a laymen when it comes to cannabis and sexuality. Is this something that any person could enjoy in terms of using cannabis to enhance their sex life?
It really is, even if the person doesn’t want to have the psychoactive effects of cannabis. There’s a cannabinoid called CBD, (cannabidiol); that has a ton of therapeutic benefits. People are using it for everything from anxiety, to treating kids with seizure disorders, to cancer, and it doesn’t have the psychoactive effects that THC does. It just relaxes, reduces pain sensations, promotes healing and all of these wonderful things. It’s a way that people can utilize the positive benefits of cannabis without feeling high.
What is it like to engage in sex or other sexual play while using the substance?
Really excellent! Of course everyone is a little different and everyone will experience it differently, so you have to really tailor it to your needs and your own tolerance or what makes you feel most comfortable. Because a strain that makes me feel like I want to fuck for hours may make you feel like you’re anxious and can’t get out of the corner. When I use cannabis for sex, it feels like everything is heightened, I get very tactile, my blood is rushing to all the bits I want to stimulate, and I get out of my head and more into my body and everything feels fucking amazing.
Do some people try this and then have trouble getting physically aroused while they’re in this state?
That can happen. I actually just wrote an article for Leafly about cannabis and erections and the jury is still out. Some studies have suggested that THC can negatively impact someone’s ability to get an erection and some people report that it makes their erections stronger, harder and longer. So its all very much a “your mileage may vary situation.” But there are cock rings, there’s other things you can do.
Would you typically suggest this is something that should be engaged in by established sexual partners?
So it’s less suitable for casual sex?
It’s less suitable for casual sex. I would never say out of hand don’t ever do it casually because people are adults and can make their own decisions but my strong encouragement is to first try cannabis on your own so you know how it affects your body and sexuality and arousal and then do it with a partner with whom you feel safe and after you have negotiated. I always want people to be consent focused and fully in control of their faculties when they’re negotiating.
So clearly there’s going to be different issues relating to the law with this depending on where you are. Here in California its legal for medical use if you have a doctor’s recommendation. Certain states it’s legal for recreational use and other places its not legal at all. So how would you recommend people approach this from a legal sense?
I absolutely would tell people to follow the laws of their state and to make sure they are covering their asses that way because I don’t want anybody to get arrested. People are still going to jail for cannabis. I would really encourage people to follow the laws. Visit recreational states like Colorado, Oregon, or Washington or Alaska or DC if you really want to do it and you live in a state that doesn’t have it.
Do you have a medical card?
I have a medical card myself. I get migraines and cannabis has helped in a major way. I’m very grateful that I’ve had it at my disposal, however I also enjoy it recreationally.
Switching gears a bit, is this your first DomCon?
And clearly this event is focused around BDSM. Are you in the lifestyle yourself?
I am. I’m a baby kinkster. I like to say I’m really kinky for vanilla people and kind of vanilla for kinky people.
Are there any particular elements of BDSM that you identify with?
I’m definitely a little girl. I love the Daddy Dom dynamic and this past weekend I got collared while on vacation with one of my lovers.
Oh you did? Congratulations!
Thank you. It was a big step for us and I felt really great about deepening our connection in that way. We’re non monogamous and he has a primary partner, so when I’m not with him I’m a free agent, I can do what I like. That dynamic works out really well for me because I like to have a lot of sex with a lot of partners. I’m very open about that.
It works well.
I suppose in the BDSM community, a lot of the teaching is about mindfulness and negotiation and being educated and aware of what you’re going to be doing. Many people would suggest not being intoxicated or high because that might interfere with your ability to know if you’re doing something that’s beyond what you’re comfortable with. So how would you relate the cannabis use with BDSM practices?
Sure! So there are a lot of ways that you can imbibe cannabis that will not get you high. CBD is one route. There are topical products you can actually apply to the skin that will not get you high so you can be completely clear and present. Let’s say you have chronic pain as a Top and you can’t wield a flogger for an hour like you used to be able to because you have arthritis in your shoulder. You can take apply a CBD topical like Apothecanna Pain Relief Spray. This would increase your range of motion and comfort so you’re able to do a scene longer. That would be one way of incorporating without having any kind of issues of not being able to focus.
So it seems like this CBD is quite different to what people might associate smoking a joint to get high. And potentially revolutionary to people. It’s an over all use of cannabis that I’m not familiar with so maybe you can tell me a little bit more about this, is it something that was recently discovered?
It’s been around as long as the plant has, but people haven’t been talking about it as much in the mainstream. There’s such a huge stigma about cannabis in the world especially in the United States. But CBD has been used in medication and people with cancer have been using it to help with their appetite stimulation or with their pain symptoms for years and years but because we can’t study it because it’s a schedule one drug that’s why no one has really heard about it until more recently. Because everyone I talk to, all of my doctor friends are like, “ok great, there is this thing you basically say is magic, where’s the study? I want the peer reviewed academic journal that talks about the legitimacy of this substance.” The problem is those studies are only just starting to come since it’s a schedule one drug. However, you can get CBD topical from companies like Apothecanna, and they ship to all 50 states.
How interesting. So CBD is one compound that comes from the cannabis plant which can be extracted in isolation?
You promote yourself as a feminist.
This is sometimes a subject of some discussion in terms of how can somebody be both a feminist and into BDSM as a submissive?
I love that question! (laughs) It’s funny you mention that because my friend Arden Leigh who is an educator and very active in the BDSM community just wrote about this in April. I’m going to quote it here because it’s so freaking good. Arden wrote, “I’m submissive BECAUSE we live in a patriarchy. Because society automatically assigns me more worth as a man’s property than as myself. Because strangers will only stop aggressively coming onto me when they see that I belong to another man. Because going to a play party alone means worrying about who might assault me or how much is advisable to drink, while going to a play party with a dominant partner means I have both freedom and protection enough to enjoy myself. Because the mythology we grow up with taught me that only a good man could save me from an abuser, and because the court system I grew up with confirmed that I certainly couldn’t do it myself. Because when confronted by an assault I am way better at standing up for my Sir’s property than I am for myself. Because I was taught that I have more value when I’m pleasing. Because I was taught that emotional labor is my job as a woman and I like having a structure where that’s appreciated. Because we’re told as women that embracing our sexualities means forfeiting our right to safety unless we have a man around to protect us. Because the auspices of belonging to someone more powerful than me allows me the freedom to express myself without fear. Because submission is literally the only thing that has made me feel like I can exist safely in this world, because nobody takes me fucking seriously as a woman. In a patriarchy, submission isn’t giving in to the system. It’s surviving it. Plus it gets me off…”
You said as a tool. Do you also derive personal enjoyment and satisfaction?
Oh my goodness yes! There is nothing I like more than having him whisper in my ear “you belong to me.” I feel like I can just relax for the first time in years. I live a very public life, I have to be on my game all the time and always just bubbly and friendly and engaging with everyone so to be able to take that off and just focus all of my energy on being what he needs me to be—it’s freeing.
That’s really interesting. So tell me about your thirtieth birthday party you had recently.
I had quite possibly the best thirtieth birthday party that anyone could have ever had. A few weeks before my birthday I knew that I wanted to have a cannabis friendly birthday party that would eventually turn into a sex party. So I spoke to my friend Brittany who happens to be the marketing director for Foria which is a THC infused coconut oil sex spray that you spray on your bits, mostly vulvas, thirty minutes before sexy fun times and it enhances pleasure and doesn’t get you high. So I said Britt, where can I have a place that’s not going to be super expensive, where we’re able to smoke cannabis and will be ok having a sex party. She says, “well why don’t you use my house?” She has this beautiful home with a pool and its very private and it was perfect. Then she asked if I’d be open to Foria sponsored my birthday party, and what would that look like. From there it just exploded. Leafly donated swag and bags for VIPs. W Vapes agreed to be our water sponsor and host a vape bar and Evoxe Labs donated vape pens for our VIP bags. Fun Factory donated vibrators and swag. My favorite dispensary, La Brea Compassionate Caregivers, was there with pre-rolls and grams of bud. Pleasure Chest donated condoms and lube. And so many more. We were checking recommendations at the door, everybody got wrist bands so we were covered that way and it was incredible. There was a band. We had such a great time. Around eleven we started gently herding people towards the door who weren’t staying for the sex party and by that point everyone had sobered up from the imbibing earlier. My colleague Alex Morgan, who is a sex educator up in Oakland, facilitated the welcome circle where we set the container for the evening, laid out the rules. You have to ask and get a verbal yes before touching someone, you have to negotiate, have safer sex conversations about STI testing/status, and all of those things. So it was really cool to have people who were very experienced in the community and some for whom it was their first sex party ever. There were BDSM scenes and threesomes, and a solid number of people just hanging out watching.
Was it LGBTQ inclusive?
Yes, all of my parties are. I identify as queer. I’m an equal opportunity slut I don’t care what’s going on with your bits. I just care about how we interact with one another.