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Do Cannabis Topicals Get You High?

Friday September 13, 2019

M any people new to cannabis – and even those in the know – are often confused about cannabis topicals and frequently ask one particular question: “Do topicals get you high?” While it may seem pretty simple, the answer is actually not so straightforward. Thankfully, we’re here to help you understand the ins and outs of cannabis topicals and how they can be used to their full potential!

What is a Cannabis Topical?

A topical is a preparation “designed for or involving local application and action (as on the body),” according to the folks at Merriam-Webster. In the cannabis world, topicals are often found as lotions, creams, bath salts and oils infused with cannabinoids.

Topicals are often confused with transdermal applications of cannabis, which are found as patches like those used for smoking cessation, birth control, or delivery of some pain relievers. They are only “topicals” in the sense that they are applied to the skin, but that is where the commonalities end.

The Difference Between Topical and Transdermal Cannabis Products

Both transdermal products and topicals can be infused with CBD and THC – two of the cannabinoids that help to relieve pain and inflammation by slowing down pain signals from the brain. The way that these interact with the body’s endocannabinoid can be very different depending on the preparation.

A topical is intended to have an effect at the actual application site, which makes it a soothing salve for skin irritations, muscle soreness, and arthritis. When absorbed through topicals, cannabis molecules linger in fat cells. Thus, when the topical is absorbed into in the body, THC molecules – the ones that get you high – are not absorbed into the bloodstream and remain at the site where they were applied.

The takeaway here is that a cannabis topical is not designed to get you high.

But transdermal cannabis products are a different story. With a transdermal patch, the medication in the preparation is designed to penetrate through the skin or mucosal membranes, and does its work into the bloodstream, away from the application site and throughout the body. Meant to release medicine over time and at a controlled rate, the effects generally kick in after a couple of hours but endure longer than a topical, with some people reporting relief for as many as two days or more.

Transdermal cannabis topicals have a very high bioavailability, meaning that the product has a very active effect and will send a consistent dose through the bloodstream. However, transdermal topicals may lose some of the aromatic terpenes and rarer cannabinoids in the manufacturing process. When terpenes are removed, some of their beneficial properties are removed as well. Those that medicate with strains of specific terpene profiles should be aware when medicating with transdermal topicals that the effect might differ.

The Benefits of Cannabis Topicals vs. Transdermals

Cannabis topicals have been shown to deliver very effective relief for common skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and rosacea, and can also be helpful in relieving pain from bug bites, scratches, and wounds. Topicals are ideal for treating skin conditions because, as mentioned, the cannabinoids linger in the skin.

Topicals are also an excellent solution for those who prefer to be discreet with their cannabis use, require site-specific relief, need to use the topical throughout the day, and cannot, or do not, want to get high. Typically, drug onset will be felt within a few minutes and remain for one to two hours. Frequent reapplication of a topical may be needed to deliver the best results.

A transdermal marijuana patch is an excellent option for those who have trouble swallowing, chronic pain, muscle spasms, and nausea. Generally, transdermals are not as widely available as topicals, but there are a few options available on the market offering different ratios of THC and CBD.

It’s important to remember, a transdermal cannabis product that contains THC will get you high.

Many people prefer transdermals because, like topicals, they are discreet and convenient. Additionally, by using a transdermal, some of the side effects that come with inhaled cannabis like dry mouth, dry and red eyes, and bronchial irritation can be avoided. However, transdermals may not deliver relief as quickly as inhaled cannabis (which is considered one of the quickest uptake methods).

The Takeaway

Topicals that you apply to your skin like creams, balms, and patches are very effective tools in your healing arsenal. A cream, oil, or balm, even if it contains THC, will not get you high, however a transdermal patch that contains THC will, although not all transdermal patches contain THC. Be sure to find the preparation that suits your needs.

What do you use cannabis topicals for? Chime in with your favorite applications!

Many people new to cannabis – and even those in the know – are often confused about cannabis topicals and frequently ask one particular question: “Do topicals get you high?” Click here to understand the ins and outs of cannabis topicals and how they can be used to their full potential.

Do Cannabis-Infused Topicals Get You High? The Definitive Answer

People have been using cannabis in medicinal settings for thousands of years. Finally, the western world is starting to catch on to the benefits of cannabinoids, and the stigma surrounding these products is beginning to go away. One of the biggest advancements in the industry comes in the form of cannabis-infused topicals, which do not produce psychoactive effects. In other words, you can safely use cannabis topicals without getting high or failing a drug test.

Can THC Be Absorbed Through the Skin?

Part of the reason we can experience the benefits of cannabis is that the human body has a natural endocannabinoid system. This system runs throughout your entire body and regulates a variety of functions from sleep to the experience of pain. Cannabinoids in topical cannabis-infused lotion work by penetrating the muscles and joints, where they act as a supplement to the endocannabinoid system. In other words, THC can be absorbed through the skin, but that doesn’t mean THC lotion gets you high.

Does THC Lotion Get You High?

Simply put, cannabis-infused lotion does not make you high. Cannabis does not produce its psychoactive or intoxicating effects through local applications, so people can safely get relief from cannabis lotion without getting high. People have used cannabis-infused lotion to address everything from arthritis pain to post-workout soreness, and they can do so without being concerned about a fuzzy head. It’s ok to use topical cannabis without worrying about driving, working, or anything else you have to do.

Can CBD Lotion Make You Fail a Drug Test?

Most likely, CBD lotion cannot make you fail a drug test. CBD is already a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, so drug tests aren’t looking for it. Drug tests for marijuana are looking for THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Even when topicals contain THC, it’s extremely unlikely that they could make someone fail a drug test by getting into the blood or urine.

Cannabinoids bind with fat molecules, which means they’re most likely going to stick around in your skin and the underlying tissue wherever you apply them. People have used cannabis topicals as an excuse for failing a drug test, but it’s most likely not the truth. The only way topicals can get distributed throughout the entire body is if a person uses a THC patch, or if the topical is transdermal.

How Topicals Interact With the Body

Instead of binding with receptors in the brain and causing a high, cannabis topicals bind with local cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. For that reason, topicals should only affect the area where they’re applied. Don’t expect to get any heady or cerebral effects from your cannabis-infused lotion, but it might work wonders for your aching back. The soothing effects of cannabinoids can work on joints and muscles, as well as the skin itself. People have even used it to address conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis, itching, and acne.

Can You Use Topicals Every Day?

You can use topicals in the same way you’d use any other soothing salve, cream, or lotion. Simply massage your cannabis-infused lotion into your skin to experience relief.

Here at Mary Jane’s Medicinals, we produce consistent, reliable THC-infused topicals for Colorado dispensaries. Our products come in a variety of formats, so you can find the one that’s most appropriate for whatever’s ailing you. Look for our small-batch topicals in your local dispensary, or contact us online to learn more.

Do Cannabis-Infused Topicals Get You High? The Definitive Answer People have been using cannabis in medicinal settings for thousands of years. Finally, the western world is starting to catch on