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06: Topicals, How to NOT get High with Cannabis

 August 05, 2020  Written by David Melnick
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In today’s episode of How to NOT get High with Cannabis, we’re exploring topicals. Topicals include anything that is applied directly to the surface of the skin, such as balms, lotions, creams, or oils. Cannabis topicals are popular products for helping to reduce pain, inflammation, and muscle tension.

When applied to the skin, the cannabinoids found in topicals typically won’t reach the bloodstream because they are generally too big to pass through the skin. Instead, topicals absorb into your skin and interact directly with nearby endocannabinoid receptors for direct, targeted relief. 

How do topicals work?

When cannabinoids interact with our receptors, they suppress inflammation and prevent the immune system from turning on when it is not needed — helping to restore balance in the area. 

When a cannabis topical is put directly on an area of the body that needs relief, the cannabinoids can interact with receptors found in the skin, muscles, and other surrounding tissues to provide relief in that specific area. This is different than when cannabis is inhaled or ingested, which allows the cannabinoids to go into the bloodstream and affect the entire body. 

This means that the cannabinoids found in your topical products aren’t likely to reach your brain and bind there to cause a “high” feeling — unless the product has been labeled “transdermal.”

Transdermal products are those that have been specifically designed to deliver cannabinoids through the skin and into the bloodstream — but they’re usually provided in forms like a patch, gel, or spray that is applied to a venous area, such as your wrists. This also means that non-transdermal topicals, even if they have THC, will in theory not cause you to register positive on a drug test. For more information on that, click here.

When it comes to using cannabis as medicine and not to get high, topicals are a great option for patients struggling with joint and back pain, skin irritations, soreness, muscle tension, cramping, or other discomforts. 

To learn more about cannabis topicals, click here. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

If you’re interested in learning about more ways to not get high with cannabis, click here to check out more videos from this series. 

Want to take this information with you, or share it with a friend? Click here to download our FREE printable handout!

Disclaimer: The information presented here is meant for educational purposes only. Medical decisions should not be made based on advertising. Consult a physician on the benefits and risks of specific medical products.

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