This research — which is about cannabis, but actually centers mental health — sheds light on the complexity of identifying as bisexual.
While we’ve made notable strides, it’s safe to say that 2023 is still a tricky time for queer people and their basic human right to exist, let alone thrive. And so, coping mechanisms are necessary, whether they be family support systems, talk therapy, or, well, weed.
This recent small but enlightening study found that individuals who identify as bisexual used cannabis more frequently than their counterparts of other sexual orientations. The study, wittily titled “The Pot at the End of the Rainbow,” pulled survey data from 10 universities and analyzed responses from 4,700 college students aged 18-30. According to the report, coping was one of the leading motives for cannabis use among this group of participants. The data also reflected higher rates of anxiety, depression, cannabis use disorder, and risk of suicide within this demographic. Before we dive into the analysis, it’s important to note that all the data collected was self-reported by participants.
Still, the report shed light on two important topics for young people right now. First, weed is not just a hobby for many people — it’s a way to self-soothe. Researchers were concerned, however, that their bisexual participants reported that they not only use flower and edibles, but also concentrates, which are more potent. Many health professionals would argue that high THC takes a coping mechanism from self-soothing to self-medicating.
Secondly, the study highlights the unique mental health challenges faced by those who identify as bisexual. Bisexual individuals exist in a complicated space where they face stigma for being queer but also often feel left out of LGBTQ spaces and issues. This combined pressure and isolation results in higher adverse mental health outcomes.
Biphobia is real, and so are the mental health conditions caused by internalizing stereotypes and identity invalidation from members of the straight and LGBTQ+ communities. And because there’s not nearly enough conversation about or support for those who don’t identify as squarely gay or straight, life can feel isolating and scary. Hopefully, this research ― which is about weed, but is actually about mental health ― could be the introduction to a deeper dive.
On a lighter note, the data also found the second leading motive for cannabis use among those attracted to multiple genders to be much less depressing and more joyful. They refer to this as “enhancement.”
“Enhancement is about expanding one’s awareness, being more open to experience and more creative, so perhaps it all comes back to openness,” said Carrie Cuttler, an assistant professor of psychology and senior author of the study.
At the end of the day, if this study teaches us anything, it’s that we need to support each other, continue to fight for queer people’s rights, and destigmatize weed use so adults can indulge safely. Puff, puff, preach, researchers!