How to use topicals

Published on August 25, 2022 · Last updated September 1, 2022
cannabis topicals

Cannabis consumption doesn’t always mean smoking a joint or hitting a vape pen. A relatively new form of cannabis consumption, topicals are a safe and efficient way of consuming that can bring in even the most unlikely people into the world of medical and recreational cannabis consumption.

What is a topical? 

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 patients who want the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the cerebral euphoria associated with other consumption forms.

Specific topicals can harness certain cannabinoids and terpenes, such as THC, CBD, and other compounds. Topicals can also contain other ingredients and essential oils for additional symptom relief, such as aloe, mint, lavender, and more.

Types of topicals

Topicals often come as creams and balms, but there are many other products, including:

  • Salves
  • Balms
  • Creams
  • Oils
  • Lubes
  • Lotions
  • Sprays
  • Salts
  • Bath bombs
  • Transdermal patches

What are topicals used for?

Topicals are most often used to treat localized pain relief, muscle soreness, tension, and inflammation. Certain topicals have different benefits depending on what they’re made of and how they’re absorbed. 

Even if a topical contains active THC, it still won’t get you high like smoking, vaping, or eating an edibles. Topicals don’t penetrate the skin deep enough to reach the bloodstream, so they only offer localized relief. Transdermal patches, however, do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could have intoxicating effects if they have a high enough THC content.

Where to buy topicals

Topicals containing THC can be bought at weed shops in legal states. They are rarer than other cannabis products, so a store may not have any topicals or have a limited selection. You may need to call ahead or look at a shop’s menu before you go.

Topicals with hemp-derived CBD and other non-THC compounds can be found in certain drug stores and stores with wellness products, as hemp is legal across the country. You can also order some of these products online and have them delivered to your door.

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