Weed Porn: How Two Taboos Became Popular Bedfellows

As marijuana becomes increasingly legal, it's finding its way into other booming industries – like porn

Whether or not pot is really an aphrodisiac, it's finding it's way into porn. Credit: Canna Obscura

As weed legalization sweeps across America, state election by state election, the popularity of cannabis products has kept pace. But while marijuana flower, tinctures, oils and more are all becoming commonplace, another, less talked-about product of the weed revolution is also blossoming: Weed porn.

Streaming porn aggregation sites like Pornhub, YouPorn, and others boast thousands of amateur and professional smutty videos starring marijuana use (for which searches skyrocket on 4/20, Pornhub revealed last year). At least one porn company creates exclusively pot-related content, while many others occasionally dabble in delivery-man plotlines with a whole new angle. And countless porn-star-produced clips, custom videos, and cam shows across the Internet showcase performers partaking in an ever-more-legal pastime.

As it turns out, the adult entertainment and cannabis industries pair well for a number of reasons. "I think porn and weed are sister industries," says Kristel Penn, a spokesperson for Emerald Triangle Girls, the only porn company devoted entirely to 420-focused content. "Each carries its own stigma, misinformation from the outside, and taboo, although both are multi-billion-dollar industries."

The generations-old stigma faced by both industries tends to attract a certain rebellious, embattled mindset, says veteran performer Richelle Ryan. "Even before marijuana became recreational, some people didn't like people that smoke," she says. But for some people, that never mattered. "[Like,] 'We don't care, we're still gonna blaze up!' And it's the same with porn. We know we're not supposed to be shooting in certain counties around Los Angeles. But porn's like the wild, wild west. You're not going stop us from shooting porn."

And, at a more fundamental level, many believe that marijuana and sex are perfect pleasure-oriented bedfellows. Although the science is still out on whether cannabis is a true aphrodisiac, sex educator and cannabis coach Ashley Manta says it can help facilitate sex. "We know that THC is a vasodilator," she says. "That's going to increase blood flow to the area, which is going to increase engorgement with blood, which is one of the things that happens when your body physiologically responds to genital stimulation."

And, according to Manta, marijuana can absolutely enhance sexual pleasure. "Cannabis is really about helping you eliminate the things that are getting in the way of getting turned on," she says. "[Things like] stress, pain, anxiety, being stuck in your head, not feeling pleasurable sensations as readily in your body. And those cannabis can help with."

For porn performers, whose jobs require them to be relaxed, present, and very much aware of their bodies, marijuana is almost a foregone conclusion. "Instead of being stressed out, dealing with crazy traffic, trying to get to set, with everything going on, it just kind of mellows me out," says Ryan. And, she adds, "I've noticed that when I'm more relaxed, I have better orgasms."

Porn stars' preference for the sticky icky comes as no surprise to anyone with a passing familiarity with the industry. Performers' stage names – like Jenna Sativa, Misty Stone, Allie Haze, and Karla Kush – can speak volumes about their smoking habits, as do their weed-infused social media presence.

"Weed is just a part of who I am," says Kendra Sunderland, a recently retired porn star who has become an outspoken supporter of marijuana. "Everyone knows I'm a stoner." To her, it only made sense to capitalize on that persona. "All my merchandise and everything that I make is all weed related. I have my own rolling papers and grinders and lighters," she says. Weed merchandizing is becoming more accessible as the industry becomes more legal, and some porn stars have even gone so far as to brand their own strains of weed, like now-retired Skin Diamond.

Most performers who make marijuana a part of their branding strategy agree that it's a great way to connect with their fans, more of whom are partaking with every state that legalizes. Vicki Chase, a multiple-award-winning performer who has appeared on the YouTube show "Wake and Bake," says that sharing her smoking habit with her fans is "a great way to be relatable." In her opinion, "Everybody wants to be smoking or is smoking," she says. "And if they see that you're on that, they appreciate you even more."

And then there are the smoking fetishists, for whom weed porn can scratch several quite particular itches. "There are very specific things that the people who have a smoking fetish are into," says Ela Darling, a performer, TEDx speaker and VR content manager of CAM4VR, who has filmed quite a bit of smoking porn herself. "Whether you keep your fingers on the cigarette, or you let it go when you take a drag. The way your mouth moves. The way you exhale – if you blow streams when you let it go. It's minutia that people who masturbate to it pay so much attention to." Those details have long centered around cigarettes, but they can easily translate to smoking a joint, too.

And smoking can be sexy, whether one is a true fetishist or not. After all, says Manta, the cannabis coach. "You're watching a phallic-looking thing go into a mouth, and watching it getting sucked on and watching white stuff come out."

It's those aesthetics that drive director Fivestar, who's shot for Emerald Triangle Girls. "I really love playing with light, and I think that the quality of light that reflects off the smoke, and the hazy diffusion that smoke leaves behind, are gorgeous," she says. "You add beautiful women to the mix and you have a very visually appealing product."

But there's a catch when you're filming with your friend Mary Jane: On traditional porn sets, most companies require performers to verify not only their identities and ages, but their sobriety. "When we sign the paperwork," Sunderland says, "we say, 'I'm not under the influence of any alcohol or drugs; I'm consenting to taking pictures and having sex on camera.'"

"Weed is a medicine, of course," says Darling. "It's also an intoxicant. And where does that come into play with consent?" For most companies, it simply means that there's no weed.

Even at Emerald Triangle Girls, the weed the performers smoke on camera is fake. "True consent on set is of paramount importance to us because we want to make sure our performers are in control," says Penn, the company's spokesperson. "We put disclaimers in every video that our performers are not under the influence of any substance, and that the scene you're about to watch is fantasy."

After all, intoxication of the performers isn't the point, anyway. "Porn that is about women smoking weed is about the fun, carefree attitude associated with marijuana culture," says Fivestar. "The vibe of the shoots is classy, playful, and sexy. The smoke is a vehicle for storytelling. The storylines are classic and simultaneously contemporary, weaving in new aspects of marijuana indulgence brought about by legalization."

But not every set is as strict about intoxication. After all, cannabis is frequently prescribed as a medicine, and few directors prohibit their talent from medicating themselves. "A lot of times, they don't really care if that's what you want to do to get yourself ready for the scene," says Sunderland. "If you just go outside and smoke a little bit, come in, and do your work, then most people don't care."

Still, most performers assert that even when imbibing is permitted at a shoot, most people keep it on the down-low. Chase, the performer, says it's a matter of professionalism. "You definitely want to be there with all your senses" when you're on set, she says. "You're on camera, and this is not on your time, not on your dime!"

"A lot of people smoke on set," agrees performer Richelle Ryan, "but they won't get that stoned, because you have to memorize your lines, and that's a lot of pressure!"

Of course today, most porn performers also webcam from home, where they act as their own bosses. Most webcam platforms discourage the use of intoxicants, but there are so many people camming at any given time that the odds of being noticed and reprimanded for toking on cam are virtually nonexistent.

"I personally don't medicate or consume while I'm working," says Mia Little, performer and president of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee. "But if I'm making a solo show by myself and literally masturbating while my camera phone is recording, then yes. Why not? It's my content, I'm the only moving part in it!"