Topicals: Non-Intoxicating, Targeted Relief

New methods of cannabis consumption are changing the perspective that cannabis only belongs in a bong or joint – or that it has to get you high, for that matter. Cannabis-infused topicals are an example of how new modes of consumption are revolutionizing perceptions of cannabis as their accessibility, safety, and efficacy invite even the most unlikely patrons into the world of medical cannabis.

Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. Because they’re non-intoxicating, topicals are often chosen by customers who want the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the intoxicating effect associated with other delivery methods.

How do topicals work?

Cannabis-infused lotions, salves, oils, sprays, and other transdermal methods of relief work by binding to cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are found throughout the body and are activated either by the body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids or by cannabis compounds known as cannabinoids (ex., THC, CBD).

Even if a topical contains active THC, it still won’t induce that intense “high” you’d get from smoking or ingesting cannabis. With most topicals, cannabinoids can’t breach the bloodstream; they only penetrate for localized relief. Transdermal patches, however, do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could have intoxicating effects with a high enough THC content.

What do topicals treat?

Topicals are most commonly selected for localized pain relief, muscle soreness, tension, and inflammation. As more studies are being completed, anecdotal evidence is beginning to show a widening spectrum of potential benefits, from psoriasis, dermatitis, and itching to headaches and cramping.

A THC-rich rub infused with cooling menthol and peppermint is a perfect way to wind down from a brutal workout or hike. For intense localized pain, you may try a warming balm that combines the deep painkilling properties of cannabinoids with a tingling, soothing sensation.

Different topicals have different benefits to offer depending on the way they are processed and the ingredients that are used, we recommend experimenting with various topical products to see what works for you. You’d be surprised the difference that one special ingredient makes!

What to expect:

The effects of some topicals can be felt right away, while others can take hours, it depends on the product. Keep in mind that while most topicals will not get you high, some transdermal patches may, because they allow THC to enter the bloodstream. Similarly, while many cannabis creams won’t cause you to fail a drug test, there are no guarantees, so proceed accordingly.


The patch is most effective when applied to a veinous part of the body, like the top of the foot or inner wrist. Cleanse and dry skin prior to application. Remove plastic liner and press patch firmly onto skin. Effects last up to 12 hours. Patch should be worn continuously.


Spot-specific balms are formulated to allow for deeper penetration. Apply generously over affected area every 4-6 hours as needed. Do not use on broken skin or open wounds.

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