In 2005, only 44 percent of Internet users believed that “online dating is a good way to meet people,” according to Pew Research. In 2013, that same statistic rose to 59 percent, and more than one in five Americans between the ages of 25 and 35 admitted to having used an online dating site or app.
But just as a few years ago online dating was considered taboo, now the taboo subject seems to be revealing a shared passion for pot with potential mates. While cannabis use may be enjoying more widespread acceptance, cannabis users remain on the fringe in the dating world. But fret not: There’s an app for that.
Capitalizing on the social acceptability that flows from increased legal access to cannabis, 420 dating sites are cropping up to cater to the growing population of singles who embrace cannabis as a lifestyle choice, or who are simply accepting of pot use whether or not they partake themselves. More mainstream dating sites generally don’t match for cannabis compatibility, and revealing that THC is one’s cup of tea can be awkward for some, or even a deal-breaker for those who are met with rejection on the basis of blazing.
So it was for Todd Mitchem, CEO of High There!, an app designed to connect people who indulge with others who accept that choice. He says he once walked out on a date who responded to his reefer revelation with a lecture. So when he was contacted by Florida businessmen Kenny Frisman and Darren Roberts with the idea of a dating app for cannabis lovers, he saw a way to weed out the haters.
Unveiled just before Valentine’s Day last year, High There! is quickly filling a unique niche that cannabis consumers are responding to with vigor. Mitchem says that in the first four months, High There! had over 115,000 downloads. To put that number in perspective, he adds, “Tinder hovered between 20,000 to 30,000 users their first six months.” And while TIME Magazine hails High There! as the Tinder for tokers, Mitchem is quick to note that the company aspires to be more than just a dating app.
“We wanted to create a Facebook/Tinder hybrid,” said Mitchem, who runs the app’s headquarters in Denver. But its current platform operates decidedly more like Tinder than a social network — and although High There! touts itself as “a global social network of cannabis enthusiasts and supporters,” currently the free app is only available in states where the plant is legal. Mitchem says that the company plans to monetize in the coming months using ads and product endorsements.
My420mate.com has likewise come to the rescue of singles who prefer to spark up to see if sparks fly. Co-founded by Denver’s Jay Lindberg and LA’s Miguel Lozano, the site has members in all 50 states and 80 countries.
“Dating is hard enough without having the added pressure of discovering if your lifestyle is going to be accepted,” Lozano says. “If cannabis is a part of someone’s life, My420mate can be the avenue for them to link up and establish a variety of friends and intimate relationships with other likeminded, cannabis friendly people.”
Lozano says that My420mate, which is currently not monetized, has been spreading fast by word of mouth, despite having done very little in the way of advertising. Operating as a site and an app, My420mate has an offline presence as well, hosting mixers for people to meet up in the real world – or at least in Los Angeles. A black-and-white Valentine’s ball – set to be co-hosted by Charlo Green, the Anchorage television reporter turned dispensary owner who famously quit her job on air by saying, “F— it: I quit” – is in the works, and will be open to anyone who enjoys or accepts cannabis.
The website 420singles.net (also 420singles.com) has been catering to cannabists looking for love since 2011. Founded by Ryan Moxon of the San Francisco Bay Area, the site has grown to over 70,000 members. The company makes revenue via premium memberships ($10-15 for two months of service, as well as limited free membership). The app is not location restricted, although most users are on the West Coast, where cannabis is legal to some extent in every state.
While both My420mate and High There! were mum on the question of their sites’ male-female ratios, it’s a fact that there are more men than women on traditional dating sites – and in particular, 420 dating appears to be more stacked with testosterone. Taking a recent perusal of male-seeking-female ads on Craigslist in the San Francisco Bay Area, over 130 posters specified a pot preference, compared with only seven female-seeking-male individuals who were seeking connection with a cannabis user.
Perhaps unsurprisingly then, success stories from cannabis dating sites are hard to come by. Lozano says that at their last My420mate gathering, “We announced a couple who have not only met but have now married because of My420mate.”
Challenges to 420 Dating Sites
Before William Eakin, 52, moved to Denver in 2014 to work for a cannabis extraction company, he was living in pre-legalization Maryland, where he had to keep his cannabis use a secret.
“It’s not too hard to meet tokers [in Denver],” he says, but finding stoner love has been another story. “The 420 dating sites I have tried seem like mostly young girls 18-30 and lots and lots of guys! It seems like there are five or more stoner guys my age for every stoner woman. I’ve chatted with some women on 420singles.net and My420mate.com, but no real connections.”
He says that although he thinks that things will change as marijuana becomes more accepted by the mainstream, currently he feels that very few women in his age bracket are tolerant of cannabis use. “Cannabis use is a giant problem for dating women my age. They say they’re cool with cannabis, but that’s not really true… I am now on traditional dating sites and noting in my profile my love of cannabis. I’m meeting some very nice, cool women on OK Cupid and have high hopes.”
Rocco, 32, who is a cannabis cultivator, says that he’s maintained an ad on a 420 dating site for three months. While he’s had occasional online interactions with women who enjoy cannabis, he has so far found it difficult to meet anyone who can tolerate the unpredictability of a grower’s schedule.
“I work in the legal medical marijuana industry, and my job revolves around the whims of Mother Nature. It’s kind of like having a kid – when the plants have a need, I kind of have to drop everything to deal with it. That’s why I need a girl who doesn’t mind being the other woman – but only to Mary Jane.”
Moxie, a Bay Area retail sales clerk and self-professed “ganja girl” in her late-30s, is an experienced online dater. But after perusing one of the 420 dating apps available, says she doesn’t think she would join.
“I love weed, but I’m not looking for a stoner guy,” she says. “I want a normal, successful guy who also smokes weed. These guys [on the 420 app] say two sentences about themselves, and all they mention is weed. Like, you’re on a 420 dating app – I get that you smoke weed.” She says the app doesn’t seem to give users much opportunity to get to know someone through their profile. “There’s space for people to go a little bit deeper on [mainstream] sites,” she observes.
“I think I have a better chance of finding a mainstream guy who smokes [cannabis] on a mainstream dating site. I just take the extra step of letting everyone know in my profile that I’m a girl who likes to get high in my downtime, and I hope that only guys who are okay with that will respond,” she says, indicating the perceived necessity of weeding out – or weeding in – compatible mates from the get-go.
“I’ve gone on a few dates. I haven’t found ‘the one’ yet, but so far I haven’t had any problems of not being accepted for [my cannabis use],” Moxie adds. “But then again, I’m a girl, so supposedly it’s easy for me.”
Rocco also takes the dual approach using 420 dating sites, as well as traditional dating sites. Just as his profile shows his refusal to choose between indica and sativa, Rocco spreads his net far and wide by looking for love on both 420 and traditional dating sites.
“At this point, I’m basically just closing my eyes and throwing a Hail Mary,” he says. “A hail Mary Jane.”
Have you tried a 420 dating site?