What Are Cannabis Topicals?
Cannabis topicals are designed to target pain and reduce inflammation and are often made with high CBD content and less than 0.3% THC if they are to be legal in every US state. In recent years, there has been a massive rise in the number of available cannabis-derived products that are available on the market. This, along with widespread changes in perception of cannabis’s medicinal value, has led to a concomitant rise in cannabis topical use even outside of those groups who usually use cannabis.
The term ‘topical’ is used to define products that can be applied to the body’s surface and includes cannabis lotions, ointments, balms, creams, and salves. These treatments are unique in that they are applied directly to the area of the body experiencing pain or inflammation rather than being taken orally. Topicals are not for recreational use and exist solely for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.
The localized application of topicals means they can rapidly target areas experiencing pain and inflammation and are effective whether the pain is mild, chronic, or acute. However, the fact that they are absorbed through the skin has led some people to ask questions about their safety. Being derived from cannabis also inevitably leads some to feel concerned that they might get high by accident and worry that topicals may make you fail a drugs test.
How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?
Unlike with oral cannabis consumption, cannabis topicals work by absorbing through your skin and allowing the localized area to benefit directly from the cannabinoids. The difference with topicals is in the way they interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system. When you vape, smoke, or take edibles, the cannabinoids are able to enter your bloodstream (and thus your brain) which enables the high stoners know and love. Topicals, however, do not absorb into the bloodstream and instead bind to CB2 receptors, which are found throughout your body as a network. By binding to the CB2 receptors instead of migrating through the bloodstream to your brain, the benefits of the topical are localized and unlikely (if not incapable) to get you high! So, if you’re looking for a cannabis product that works well and won’t get you high, topicals are definitely worth considering.
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.
Cannabis Topicals and Drug Tests
So far, studies have shown that the use of cannabis in its topical form likely will not result in testing positive for weed in drug tests.
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.
Now people can benefit from the medicinal aspects of cannabis in a way that won’t potentially get them fired or in legal trouble. Even in areas with anti-cannabis sentiments, topicals can slide under the radar since they won’t show up on your average drug test! This doesn’t mean that topical cannabis consumption is entirely undetectable, however. If your career depends on passing a drug test, make sure to check the individual product before applying as some more extreme forms of topicals might mess with results. But don’t worry — the chances of regular topical cannabis use showing up on a drug test is negligible.
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