Why Do Bisexual Women Smoke So Much Weed?

Dr. Margaret Robinson, a research scientist at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network is trying to figure out the reasons behind a proliferation in studies that show high rates of bisexual women using marijuana. Through focus groups and one-on-one interviews with women in Toronto, Dr. Robinson is learning about the behavior and has published them in the peer-reviewed journal Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

She found that bi women face stigma as well as social exclusion and that contributes to the drug use. There is a common feeling isolation from multiple groups about both their gender and sexual orientation. Some of the initial reasons that bi women said they use pot is to relieve anxiety and manage pain. But, other reasons specifically co-related to their bisexuality.

The women spoke of rejection from hetero and lesbian peer groups, and some talked of being “sandwiched” between the two communities. According to a 2000 National Alcohol Survey nearly two-out-of-five, or 38 percent of bisexual women reported marijuana use in the last year compared to only 5 percent of straight women and just over 20 percent of lesbians. Another recent study of a representative sample of U.S. college students found that bisexual women were nearly three times more likely to have used cannabis than their heterosexual or lesbian counterparts.

“My concern isn’t with bi women using cannabis so much as it is with what’s prompting the high rates of cannabis use,” Dr. Robinson said in an interview with The Daily Beast. Other anxieties for bisexual women included the pressure to “pick a side” of being either lesbian or heterosexual. As far as bisexual men, there are some studies that show bi men smoke more than their heterosexual counterparts, but their sexual orientation doesn’t have as much of a noticeable impact on their use, when compared to women.

“The big difference, I think, is that bisexual women are exposed to sexism as well as biphobia and homophobia,” Dr. Robinson said. Dr. Robinson suggests that bi women may need better “skills for coping with stigma, stress, and anxiety,” but she does not necessarily argue that bi women need to cut back on their cannabis use. She is worried, however, about the women in her study who do want to smoke less but were “ridiculed” by support groups when they asked for help.

“Bisexual women aren’t treated with respect, which is the broader problem overall,” Dr. Robinson said.

Mike Szymanski
Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.” Write him at [email protected]