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Reports Claim Bisexuals Smoke the Most Cannabis. Is There Any Truth to It?

February 7, 2019
(Charles Wollertz/iStock)
Bisexual women smoke a lot of weed.

Three times more than other communities, with 38% of bisexual women reporting using cannabis compared to just 20% of lesbians and 5% of straight women. Researchers who have studied the subject, from Canada to the United States and Australia, agree on the fact that bi-women smoke the most. But that’s about the only concrete conclusion researchers have been able to draw.

The big question lingers: Why exactly does this correlation exist?

It’s a great question, and one that seems all the murkier by research standards. It has also been found that bisexual men do not have the same tendencies as their feminine counterparts. Sure, they still smoke their fair share of bud, but not to the same extent of bisexual women.

This would seem to suggest that bisexuality itself is not the factor at play here … so what is?

How Anxiety Bridges Bisexuality and Cannabis

Since these statistics first came to light, many theories have been floating around the issue. Most notably perhaps, researchers and the public seem to focus on anxiety and mental health as the correlation between bisexual women and cannabis use.

Bisexual people experience much higher rates of anxiety compared to their straight and gay peers. Bisexuals are also 80% more likely to have anxiety than the average person, and one-third of bisexual people report high levels of anxiety. Issues such as biphobia, bi-erasure, and the absence of community can be contributing factors.

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Many bisexuals feel stuck in the middle of two groups that won’t accept or embrace them, and face discrimination from monosexual communities. This sense of not belonging or feeling pressure to “pick a side” is absolutely anxiety inducing.

However, bisexual men face these same challenges at the same rates as bisexual women, and also have high rates of anxiety. In fact, bisexual men statistically struggle the most with coming out. So, if discrimination against bisexuality is the cause of high anxiety—and thus the catalyst for greater use of cannabis—then why don’t bisexual men use weed as much as women?

Some researchers suggest that sexism is the missing link. Could it be that facing this additional stigma is enough to tip the scales and create just enough added anxiety that more bisexual women are turning to cannabis to soothe their nerves? When considering this theory, one has to wonder whether the addition of further marginalizations would continue this hypothetical trend. For example, would a disabled bisexual woman smoke more cannabis than an able-bodied bisexual woman?

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We simply can’t say for certain, as the data and studies do not currently exist to explore this notion, and thus the theory that discrimination equals anxiety equals cannabis use, remains a hypothesis.

This does raise another query, which is whether there is even a correlation between higher anxiety levels and greater use of cannabis. It’s an interesting question, since anxiety seems to be one of the most hit or miss syndromes when it comes to medical marijuana. Some find the herb helps calm their nerves, while others will tell you it exacerbates their symptoms.

Is Sensation Seeking the Cause?

The research that has been done on this topic is equally split. Some studies report cannabis is an effective anxiety reliever, while other research shows how cannabis can cause anxiety and paranoia. A lot of this comes down to finding the right strain, and paying attention to THC levels. However, while new research may shine a light on which strains do and do not relieve anxiety, we still cannot say for certain if anxious people are using more weed than the general population.

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What if it has nothing to do with anxiety at all? Are there any other prevailing theories? This question brings us to the concept of sensation seeking, a hypothesis that bisexual men and women have personality traits that motivate them to seek new experiences. This would, in theory, be a reason that more bisexual women have been open to trying cannabis. However, once again, it fails to account for why bisexual men do not consume cannabis at the same rates, and the conclusion is tenuous at best. In addition, if “sensation seeking” is to blame, wouldn’t bisexuals also be using other drugs at higher rates? Why would cannabis stand out uniquely?

Could it have something to do with mental health? Or personality traits? Could it be something else entirely? It’s possible we may never have a clear answer.

“[Sensation seeking] doesn’t explain why bi women are using cannabis specifically. We have to look at trends in a broader context…” Dr. Margaret Robinson told The Daily Beast in an article titled, Why Do Bi Women Smoke So Much Weed? Dr. Robinson conducted focus groups and interviews with bisexual women on the subject, and it’s worth nothing that she is of the belief that mental health is the answer to the article’s title question.

“We have to look at trends in a broader context and the context for bisexuals is generally one of high stigma and social isolation. People rarely thrive under those conditions,” she concludes.

But remember that correlation does not equal causation. Currently, we can safely say that we know that bisexual women report the highest level of cannabis use. The answer as to why, will remain purely speculative unless further studies are done, and even then, self-reported studies are always open to dishonesty and thus inaccuracies in data.

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Could it have something to do with mental health? Or personality traits? Could it be something else entirely? It’s possible we may never have a clear answer.

Personal Experience Among the Research

I feel comfortable offering my own anecdotal perspective. I am a bisexual woman who has anxiety and I also happen to be a frequent cannabis user. If asked why I believe I fit these statistics, and what reason I may give for the cause, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

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I’ve had anxiety since long before I understood I was bisexual, since before I felt the invisibility and erasure that comes along with being a part of the bisexual community, since before I finally publicly came out (holla June 2016). I’ve also been smoking cannabis for over a decade, and I personally don’t use it for anxiety, but rather for pain relief, relaxation, and especially insomnia. I cannot properly explain why I am both bisexual and a stoner.

The fact of the matter is that it’s not possible to draw any firm conclusions with the results of these studies, but perhaps it’s okay not to know. We may not understand why bisexual women seem to smoke the most weed, but at least we know the odds are good that the bisexual women in your life will always be happy to share a blunt and a bong with you—just don’t ask us to choose between the two.

Rae Lland's Bio Image

Rae Lland

Rae Lland is a freelance writer, journalist, and former editor for Weedist and The Leaf Online. With a focus on culture, music, health, and wellness, in addition to her work for Leafly, she has also been featured in numerous online cannabis publications as well as print editions of Cannabis Now Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @rae.lland

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  • Jeff Johnson

    Interesting article, and bravo for being open about your sexuality!

    Note for editor (cuz I’m a closet member of the grammar police): exacerbate, not exasperate. Nothing but love for Miss Lland and her always thought provoking articles. Thank you! 🙏

  • MXJ222

    The science for this entire line of thought is essentially nonexistent. All it proves is a big fat nothing. So what if x% of bisexual women use cannabis and that x% is bigger than that of gay women or straight women? There isn’t shred of valid research that prove sexual orientation has anything to do with this.

    If there is a link, it could be based on self image, sense of self and emotional security linked to your sexual orientation and relief from how that may impact you personally.

    The whole question is pretty weak.

  • Dmember

    So why couldn’t the article just say people with anxiety like cannabis? Because it calms them down…. Sounds a lot better than comparing yourself to a biologically confused person. “Bi-sexual” strongly implies mental illness/confusion. So the purpose of the article? God only knows. Maybe to try to desensitise us some more to these gastly conditions?

    • Victoria Romeo

      WTF? Are you serious? Damn, you figured out our secret ghastly gay-girl plot . Also, “Bi” is Latin and actually means two, not mentally ill. They don’t call a ‘bicycle’ a ‘mentally-ill-cycle’ now do they?

  • Chris Newman

    I appreciate your honesty, Rae. “The Truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” 🙂

  • John Walker

    These articles just get worse and worse on this site… This could be one of the dumbest I have ever read… who in the fk cares who does what?

  • Victoria Romeo

    Pay no attention to these fools commenting Rae. The article was lighthearted and sure, perhaps doesn’t *prove* anything (neither does the bible but people seem to swear by it anyway lol), but what it does is open up the opportunity to talk about a very real issue many of us (like myself, a stoner bisexual woman HOLLA!) face within the LGBTQ community. I will happily load the first bowl and spark the first blunt to share <3

  • Alfredo412

    “This study examined the relationship between sexual orientation and substance use among a nationally representative sample of U.S. college and university students. Data from the 1999 College Alcohol Survey were analyzed to compare marijuana and other illicit drug use among heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual students.”

    The information is 20 years out of date…try again Leafly.