Pubdate: Sun, 23 Apr 2017
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2017 The New York Times Company
Author: Dan Hyman


"Isn't it cute?" said Molly Peckler, holding a delicate gold-chain
necklace adorned with a cannabis-leaf charm away from her neck. "It's
a perfect representation of my approach to cannabis."

With sunlight pouring in through a sliding-glass door in the apartment
she shares with her husband, Marc Peckler, a software salesman, Ms.
Peckler explained how she believed a shared love of cannabis could be
the spark in a relationship.

"Cannabis is almost an analogy for being authentic," said Ms. Peckler,
32, the founder of Highly Devoted in Los Angeles, an online matchmaker
that connects cannabis-using singles. "If this is a part of your life,
then you should be open and honest about that, especially if you're
trying to start a romantic relationship with someone."

Ms. Peckler, who lives in Venice, Calif., is among a number of such
matchmakers who have emerged in recent years, though some medical
experts are skeptical about the idea of building relationships around
a psychotropic substance.

The My 420 Mate website and the mobile app High There are two of the
other entries in the competition to connect people based on their
mutual affection for cannabis. High There is Tinder-like, in that
users choose potential partners based on their photographs and proximity.

Darren Roberts, a founder of High There and its chief executive, said
the app was devised to eliminate dating anxiety for marijuana users.

"Now people can date without any type of judgment or stigma," he

In September, at a Los Angeles event organized by Ms. Peckler on the
rooftop of the offices of Green Street, a self-described "creative
cannabis agency," people mingled at a vape bar and enjoyed
cannabis-infused hors d'oeuvres.

"I work with white-collar cannabis consumers," Ms. Peckler said with a
laugh. "That's my bread and butter, for sure." Later, she held a
dating workshop seminar "about where to find cannabis-friendly
partners and dating efficiently and how to get in the best mind-set so
you can really take advantage of the situation."

"And then I'll bring out the joints," she recalled, "and then it's
like, 'Oh, my God!' People start opening up and chatting and they're
comfortable and that's when you can start really forging those great

Jeffrey Welch, 31, a lawyer in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles
who specializes in cannabis-related legal matters, had given himself
only a 10 percent chance of meeting someone at the event, but he left
with a potential love interest.

"I was shocked," he said. "Everyone there was consuming responsibly
and it was a very relaxed, open, engaging nonjudgmental vibe."

His cannabis connection stalled, however; both he and his prospective
partner had hectic schedules. "But if the opportunity arises where we
both have the bandwidth to date each other, it would be great," he

Ms. Peckler thought of the idea for Highly Devoted after meeting her
husband when smoking with him and his friends while attending the
University of Illinois.

"We were totally in the moment," she said. "It just felt so much more
natural because we knew we had this one thing in common. It ended up
being so powerful in terms of building that bond between us."

She worked as a matchmaker in her native Chicago, followed by a job
with a cannabis consultation firm that advised medical and
recreational marijuana dispensaries in emerging markets. She formed
Highly Devoted in 2015.

"I want to help people build confidence and find love and really
understand that if cannabis is an important part of their life, then
they shouldn't be ashamed," she said.

With a recent Gallup poll reporting that 13 percent of American adults
smoke marijuana, and with more states allowing its recreational use,
Ms. Peckler said marijuana's role in fostering new relationships was
likely to grow.

For many couples, marijuana use, or non-use, is a point of

Michael Ortiz, 30, a New York tea distributor, said he had taken for
granted that smoking marijuana would be O.K. with his girlfriend.

Not so. Now she is his ex-girlfriend.

Ms. Peckler helped Mr. Ortiz be upfront about his need for marijuana
when meeting potential partners.

"It's almost a deal breaker if they take a childish taboo viewpoint on
marijuana," he said. "I'm like, 'I don't think we're going to really
understand each other.'"

Dana Meyerson, 37, a publicist based in Chicago, also prefers dating
marijuana smokers.

"Being on the same level together seems important," she said. "For me
it knocks down a wall where I don't have to be so rigid." Though she
has her limits: "As long as they're not the dude on the first date who
whips out the vape at a bar," she said.

Not everyone is a fan, though. Some medical experts say marijuana use
can reduce the chances of making meaningful emotional

"In relationships, where you have to have all your feelings available
to be able to navigate intimacy, chronic marijuana use can be a
downfall," said Dr. John E. Franklin, a professor of psychiatry at
Northwestern University.

Habitual marijuana users, he added, "have kind of a muted response to
life's simple pleasures. The drug becomes the narrow way of getting in
touch with their feelings."

In a 2014 article in Psychology Today, Dr. David Sack, a psychiatrist
and the chief medical officer of Elements Behavioral Health, an
operator of addiction treatment centers, wrote: "Marijuana can sap the
user's interest in and commitment to an intimate connection,
especially if use becomes heavy. In some cases, it becomes more
comfortable for the user to have a primary emotional attachment with
the drug rather than a person."

But Ms. Peckler said that marijuana could foster rather than suppress
a connection, though she conceded that "moderation is key."

A version of this article appears in print on April 23, 2017, on Page
ST14 of the New York edition with the headline: Matchmaker,
Matchmaker, Roll Me a Joint.
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MAP posted-by: Matt