Coming at Cannabis and sex from every conceivable angle is a profession unlike any other. But then again, there’s only one CannaSexual. Here we find Ashley Manta, bringing together time-honored taboos for a fresh take on talking dirty.
How did you become The CannaSexual?
It has been quite a ride to get here. I got started as a sex educator 12 years ago, and I was doing sexual violence prevention education working as a rape crisis counselor and a victim advocate. It was really amazing work, but I burned out because it’s really intense work. The last thing I did before I made the switch into pleasure focused education was working at Planned Parenthood for a year, which was awesome. I learned a lot about sexual and reproductive health, and that informed a lot of my perspectives moving forward.
How does sexual health fit in with overall health?
Sexual health, I think, is an intrinsic part of overall health and wellness. Even if you are not having sex with a partner, it’s really important to have a sexual relationship with yourself. It’s important to know your body and to take care of your body, to get tested, and to do exams on yourself – regardless of your body or genital configuration. Checking yourself out because it’s part of you, and the better you know your body, the more easily you’re going to be able to tell if something is off in some way.”
How has Cannabis benefitted your sexual health?
Cannabis has benefitted my sexual health in every conceivable way. From helping with addressing the pain with penetration I was experiencing, to having genital herpes. When I’m having outbreaks, I find that when I apply Cannabis oil to the blisters, they go away faster and they don’t hurt as much. I don’t have any science to back that up, this has just been my own experience, but it works for me.
I get fewer outbreaks when I’m consuming Cannabis regularly, because it reduces my overall stress level. I’m also prone to migraines and it has helped with that. I have anxiety and PTSD from my trauma, and so when I get panicky, Cannabis will help me get out of my head and into my body so that I can be present with my pleasure.
Can you speak more about how the high priestess of pleasure and pot comes into play here?
One of the downloads that I’ve received on one of my plant medicine journeys is that I am a botanical ambassador. I am kind of like the Lorax – I speak for the plants. And so, I really encourage folks who are bringing Cannabis into a sacred sexual space to treat it with reverence, to create ritual, and to make it a very intentional experience.
Light incense, choose a soundtrack or music that feels like the kind of vibe you’re trying to create, have other plants like roses or flowers in the room.
The way that you lay out your supplies, the way you grind it up, even just the ritual of rolling a joint – sprinkling it in, tightening it up, the licking. That’s sexy as hell. It’s sexy to smoke it.
“Cannabis was something that was very much shamed from the time I grew up. I grew up in DARE culture, in the Northeast, where ‘weed was bad’ and people who ‘did weed’ were bad,” Manta said.
What is something that you wish they taught when you learned sex education in school?
I actually didn’t learn a lot of sex education in school. I have a master’s degree in philosophy. Something I wish I understood earlier on in my career was how much the extent to which shame and trauma can get in the way of feeling connected with your body. I learned about trauma early on, but it was very much surviving trauma from a societal, day-to-day living perspective.
It was not as much how trauma impacts your ability to feel pleasure or to feel connected to your sex, especially sexual trauma. I didn’t understand disassociation, the freeze response, and I didn’t understand why my body would just go numb.
That’s something I wish I understood earlier, and how much Cannabis could help with that. Cannabis was something that was very much shamed from the time I grew up. I grew up in DARE culture, in the Northeast, where ‘weed was bad’ and people who ‘did weed’ were bad.
I even had bias towards Cannabis until I was in my early 20s, and then I got my master’s degree in philosophy and half of my cohort were Cannabis consumers – even some of my professors, that was the thing. There were people with PhDs smoking weed, clearly it wasn’t just all ‘evil criminals.’ As I started consuming it, it helped me break out of the box. Society loves putting us in boxes and sticking to this very narrow, linear trajectory of what your life is supposed to look like.
Through philosophy, through Cannabis, through throwing out constructs of what sex and sexuality are supposed to be like, I’ve gotten to break out of that box and it feels amazing.
What’s your favorite way to incorporate Cannabis into the bedroom?
God, there are so many ways. I really like doing it from a multifaceted approach. I don’t like to do just one thing. So, every time I have sex, especially penetrative sex, I use Foria. Every single time. And I use their THC and CBD oil together. The CBD helps with inflammation, and [Foria’s] Awaken Oil has a lot of plant-based botanicals that heighten sensation. And the THC in that brings in the extra blood flow, and I find it makes me cum harder. And then I like to pair in, depending on the day. I have shoulder issues, so I’ll do a topical salve and I’ll have my partner do a shoulder massage. Or if I’m stressed and I can’t get out of my head, I will do something with a high CBD 1:1 product, whether it’s vaping flower or puffs off a joint – I like to hit it from different angles.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned while working as a sex educator?
The absolutely crucial nature of communication. You’ve got to be able to say whatever it is that you’re afraid to say. For consent purposes, it’s so important to ask and get a verbal ‘yes’ and to be checking in about ‘does this feel good, is this working for you, how could it be better?’ It is also to be able to say, ‘I’m done now’ or ‘this isn’t working for me, can we try something else?’
The ability to share your experience and be able to receive information from your partner is of the utmost importance, and it’s the thing that I’ve found that most people struggle with.
People don’t know how to talk about sex or pleasure or their needs, and they feel bad for giving feedback, especially what they perceive as negative feedback where there’s a correction or adjustment.
We feel bad, but in reality what you’re doing is you’re giving a gift. You’re giving the person cheat codes to your body, and the most appropriate response to feedback like that is, ‘thank you so much for letting me know.’
The alternative [to saying what you want] is enduring touch, and I don’t think that’s good for people. You can do what you want, your sex life is your own, but I really encourage folks to do what feels good.
Do what feels like a ‘hell yes’ in your body, and if it’s not a ‘hell yes,’ you get to say ‘I need something different,’ or ‘I’m ready to be done now.’ And having the courage – as well as the kindness to yourself – to be able to say that and advocate for your own needs is so important.
TheCannaSexual Learn more aboutCannabis and Sexual Health at her website, AshleyManta.com
interview & photos by DANIELLE HALLE @sweet.deezy for leaf nation