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Do Cannabis Topicals Get You High?

  • by Alfonso Colasuonno

No, cannabis topicals cannot get you high. However, topical marijuana can be quite effective for treating a wide range of medical conditions. 


There are many different ways to utilize the medicinal attributes of cannabis.

Topical marijuana (e.g. cannabis-infused salves, lotions, oils) is an excellent choice for targeted relief of certain conditions.

Additionally, because cannabis topicals are directly absorbed by the skin rather than processed through the liver or bloodstream, they provide the added benefit of being non-psychoactive.

Before you rush to your local dispensary or other shop that sells cannabis-based products, read on to learn the facts about topical marijuana.

What’s In Cannabis Topicals?

There are three main types of cannabis topicals: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolates.

Full-spectrum topicals include a wide assortment of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Broad-spectrum topicals feature a similar blend of cannabinoids and terpenes, except that THC is excluded from the mix.

CBD-isolate topicals include no cannabinoids other than cannabidiol (CBD).

Many cannabis topicals include various oils, herbs, and vitamins for additional therapeutic benefit.

It’s a good idea to examine a topical marijuana product’s label prior to purchase so that you can know exactly what it contains. You may also want to examine a topical marijuana product’s lab reports in order to analyze its specific terpene and cannabinoid profile.

What Type Of Topical Marijuana Should I Use?

CBD (alongside THC) is the most popularized of the many cannabinoids present within the cannabis plant. However, that does not mean it is the only cannabinoid that will provide relief of your medical symptoms. Depending on the particular health-related challenge, other cannabinoids may be more appropriate to treat your condition.

Regardless of your medicinal issue, a full-spectrum topical is usually a better option than a CBD-isolate topical. One of the main reasons this is so is because of the entourage effect, where different cannabinoids work together synergistically to amplify the benefits of each.

For those who do want to start with a CBD-isolate topical, it is important to note that the best results tend to be achieved with a moderate dose. Applying too much or too little of the topical to your affected areas may result in somewhat less relief of your symptoms.

As with all cannabis-based products, we strongly recommend starting with a small dose. If that is effective, great! If not, try gradually applying more of the topical to your affected areas until you experience relief.

If you would benefit from tracking your results, consider one of our Patient Journals.

Cannabis Oils as a Topical

How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?

Your skin absorbs the topical marijuana after it is applied, leading to a reduction or elimination in your pain or discomfort. This happens because the cannabinoids in topical marijuana bind to the cannabinoid receptors present throughout your body.

Many people choose to use cannabis topicals because they are generally non-psychoactive. If that is an important factor for you, be aware that some transdermal cannabis patches may have the potential to get you high. If you are not seeking that particular type of experience, consider other types of topical marijuana.

Which Conditions Are Cannabis Topicals Good For?

Cannabis topicals are ideal for treating muscle or nerve pain, arthritis, inflammation, and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Excellent results have also been noted for menstrual cramps, headaches, and migraines, although scientific validation for treating these issues through the use of topical marijuana has not yet been confirmed.

How To Get The Best Results with Cannabis Topicals

Between the allure of its incredible sales potential and a dearth of federal oversight, some low-quality cannabis topicals have seeped into the market. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to avoid purchasing ineffective topical marijuana products.

Many places that sell cannabis topicals offer free samples. If that is an option, consider trying the topical marijuana in store. Since relief tends to be felt within as little as ten minutes when using cannabis topicals, you might be able to quickly have a good idea of whether a product is a match for your needs.

Cannabis topicals can bring near-instantaneous relief. However, consistent application usually leads to better results, particularly for long-term challenges.

Laurel “Lo” Friesen, who is the founder, CEO, and chief extractor at Heylo, explains that “It’s...preventative maintenance. For example, people who have arthritis in their hands who use [cannabis topicals] on their hands every day are going to have less pain, less inflammation. They’re going to have less pain in their hands over time than people who use it to treat [their symptoms as they arise].”

Also, we recommend that you apply topical marijuana during times where you aren’t exerting much physical energy, such as when resting at home or at your desk in the office. This allows the topical marijuana to fully be absorbed instead of being sweated out or accidentally rubbed off.


If you’ve been struggling with pain, inflammation, or skin conditions, you may want to consider giving cannabis topicals a try and testing your results with a Patient Journal.

If you’d like to explore other methods of utilizing cannabis, check out our post on The Best Delivery Methods for Cannabis Therapy.

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