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The Leafly Buyer’s Guide to Northern California Cannabis Topicals

Published on January 26, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020

The Leafly Buyer’s Guide provides a curated editorial list of top cannabis product picks on the market now, chosen by local experts in each region.

Hälsa Topicals: Soothe

(Courtesy of Hälsa)

Based in: Santa Cruz

Established less than three years ago, Hälsa (Swedish for “health”) has quickly built a dedicated following for their line of high-terpene essential oil roll-ons, each with 100mg of CBD and 100mg of THC plus a targeted array of essential oils. Soothe, formulated to alleviate muscle tension and inflammation, blends those cannabinoids with peppermint, cypress, marjoram, and orange.

Three places to find it:Herbal Cruz in Santa Cruz; Higher Level of Care in Castroville; Humboldt Patient Resource Center in Arcata

Papa & Barkley: Releaf Balm

(Courtesy of Papa & Barkley)

Based in: Eureka

From the heart of Humboldt County—Northern California’s premiere cannabis production region—comes a farm-to-topical operation that infuses cannabis oils extracted from their own grows into bath soaks, body oils, and even transdermal patches. Papa & Barkley’s Releaf Balm is an all-natural coconut oil infused at a 3:1 ratio (THC to CBD), with more than 400mg of total cannabinoids per jar.

Three places to find it:Caliva in San Jose; Blum in Oakland; Humboldt Patient Resource Center in Arcata

Whoopi & Maya: Soak

(Courtesy of Whoopie & Maya)

Based in: San Francisco

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After winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony, Whoopi Goldberg decided to follow her heart into the world of medical cannabis. The actor and celebrity has relied on cannabis medicinally for much of her adult life, and saw the need for a line of topicals and edibles designed for women, so she started her own company together with her granddaughter. Whoopi and Maya’s Medicated Bath Soaks blend Epsom salts with cannabis and therapeutic essential oils for a uniquely relaxing full body experience.

Three places to find it:Greenleaf Solutions in Modesto; Apothecarium in San Francisco; US Bloom Collective in Vallejo

Doc Green’s: Therapeutic Healing Cream

(Courtesy of docGreen)

Based in: Berkeley

Made from raw cannabis extracts that are rich in anti-inflammatory THCA, Doc Green’s Therapeutic Healing Cream is fair trade shea butter infused with cannabinoids and blended with additional plant extracts and essential oils. The lotion comes in lavender, vanilla, and unscented varieties, all of which absorb quickly, bringing targeted relief directly to your aches and pains.

Three places to find it:7 Stars Holistic Healing Center in Richmond; Love In It Cooperative in Mendocino; Harvest on Geary in San Francisco

Humble Flower Co.: Healing Massage Oil

(Courtesy of Humble Flower Co)

Based in: Humboldt County

This homegrown Humboldt family business puts out a line of vegan and organic cannabis-based topicals that all provide the plant’s healing properties without any grassy smell or psychotropic effects. Made from ethically-sourced ingredients, their Healing Massage Oil includes not only a high concentration of cannabinoids, but also a nourishing and moisturizing blend of essential oils (ylang ylang and lavender) in a spa-quality base packed with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins that protect the skin.

Three places to find it:The Heart of Humboldt in Arcata; CBCB in Berkeley; Emerald Pharms in Hopland

Absorb CBD: Topical Relief

(Courtesy of Absorb CBD)

Based in: Sonoma County

Calling themselves a “farm to body” topical company, Absorb CBD starts by overseeing every aspect of cultivation for the cannabis they source. They always have an eye towards harvesting flowers at their peak of potency and then retaining as many of their cannabinoids and terpenes as possible while extracting. The Topical Relief product blends a cannabis extract (with a 25:1 ratio of CBD to THC) with turmeric, arnica, St. John’s wort, and essential oils of wintergreen, peppermint, Douglas fir, lemon, eucalyptus, blue cypress, cedar, and candeia.

Three places to find it:Emerald Pharms in Hopland; Magnolia Wellness in Oakland; Palm Springs Safe Access in Palm Springs

Om Edibles: Lion’s Balm

(Courtesy of Om Edibles)

Based in: San Francisco

Maya Elisabeth founded the all-female collective behind Om Edibles a decade ago because of her “obsession with showing people healthy and creative ways to ingest cannabis.” And that includes through the skin, because in addition to their award-winning edibles, Om also makes Epsom bath soaks, body oils, and Lion’s Balm—a cannabis-infused salve including beeswax, shea, and cocoa butter. Lion’s Balm rolls on smooth and penetrates deep into muscles to provide targeted pain relief.

Three places to find it:Medithrive in San Francisco; Tahoe Wellness Cooperative in South Lake Tahoe; Harborside Health Center in Oakland

Flower Power: Force Field Skin Serum

(Courtesy of Flower Power)

Based in: Mendocino County

A truly “seed to salve” operation, the team at Flower Power starts with sun-grown organic cannabis, then uses traditional medicine-making techniques to infuse their crop and combine it with the finest ethically sourced and organically grown ingredients. In this manner, they produce truly small batch hand-crafted cannabis topicals. Their Force Field Skin Serum is a hydrosol blend (distilled floral water) of helicrysum, tulsi, bachelor button, and wild carrot seed, all fortified with hyaluronic acid, matcha green tea, and pearl powder, and it hydrates and regenerates skin cells while providing antioxidant benefits.

Three places to find it:Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine in Del Rey Oaks; Mission Organic in San Francisco; Emerald Pharms in Hopland

Care By Design: CBD Pain Stick

(Courtesy of Care by Design)

Based in: Sonoma County

The entire line of Care By Design topicals harvests the soothing benefits of a perfectly balanced 1:1 CBD to THC ratio cannabis oil combined with essential oils and shea butter. Their Topical Pain stick rolls on easy and starts working almost immediately, thanks to an optimized blend of nearly a dozen oils plus beeswax, cocoa butter, and vitamin E.

Three places to find it:Cannacruz in Santa Cruz; Zen Garden Wellness in Sacramento; Love In It Cooperative in Mendocino

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David Bienenstock
David Bienenstock
Veteran cannabis journalist David Bienenstock is the author of "How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High" (2016 - Penguin/Random House), and the co-host and co-creator of the podcast "Great Moments in Weed History with Abdullah and Bean." Follow him on Twitter @pot_handbook.
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