Marijuana and Consent

No doubt you’ve heard that recreational marijuana use is legal in Colorado for those individuals who are 21 and older, but you might not have thought much about marijuana use and sexual consent. It’s important not to get too caught in the weeds: the bottom line is while different substances do affect users in different ways, the rules of consent don’t change from substance to substance.

Consent is based on the idea that all parties involved in a sexual situation have given their full and enthusiastic permission as participants, and that they are free to opt out at any point. To consent to sexual activity means that you are of sound mind when you give permission, and that you are doing so under your own free will – no one is pressuring, threatening, or forcing you to do so.

So whether we are sober or under the influence how do we ensure that we are navigating consent correctly? First and foremost consent is based on communication. Ideally verbal communication is best and leaves less room for misinterpretation, but we also communicate nonverbally by our body language and actions. For many people talking about sex, even with their partner(s) can feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Here are a few simple tips:

1. Consent is an eager and enthusiastic “Yes”. Not the absence of “No”. Let’s start by affirming the positive. Sex should be safe, fun, and enjoyable for everyone involved. The only way to know for sure if someone is consenting to sex is by asking them AND waiting to receive back their affirmative response.

  • “Would it be ok if I kissed you?”
  • “Is it ok if I take your pants off?”

2. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. Your partner may have given you that enthusiastic “yes” 10 minutes ago, and things are really starting to heat up, but now they’re reconsidering. Maybe they aren’t communicating this directly, but their body language shows that they seem uncomfortable. It’s your responsibility to continually check in with each other and respect each other’s limits at all times.

  • “Does this feel good?”
  • “Do you want me to keep going?”

3. Consent for one activity is not consent for all activities. Just because someone has given you consent doesn’t mean you have full, unlimited access to their body. Talk to them about what they’re into, what turns them on, and what their limits are.

  • “Wow! That felt really good. I’ve been curious about trying this new position. Is that something you would like to try with me?

4. Using marijuana – be it smoked, vaped, eaten, or dabbed – affects your decision making and therefore your ability to make safe and healthy choices that could put you at risk. If there is any doubt whether or not someone who has been using drugs or alcohol is of sound mind to give consent it is our responsibility to err on the side of caution. This might seem disappointing in the moment, but chances are if they’re really into you they’ll appreciate the care and respect you show them by waiting and revisiting the topic when everyone is sober.

  • “Hey, I was so hot for you last night, but I was worried that you had too much to drink and then you smoked that joint so I didn’t try to make a move. Now that we’re both sober I wanted to see if you might still be interested in hooking up sometime. What do you think?”

For more information, please contact Tyler or Erin below:

Tyler Osterhaus Sexual Violence Prevention Unit Coordinator

Erin Flynn, Retail Marijuana Education and Youth Prevention Coordinator