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Everything Canadians need to know about cannabis topicals

December 16, 2019

Yes, cannabis can be smoked, vaporized and eaten, but did you know it can also be applied to your skin? Learn everything you need to know about topicals—aka cannabis-infused lotions, creams, balms, and more—here, in our very Canadian guide to cannabis topicals.

What are topicals?

Topicals are cannabis-infused creams, lotions, balms, lubes, bath salts, and other products intended for your skin. Typically not intoxicating, topicals are valued for their potential to provide localized relief from pain and inflammation without a high.

How can I use topicals?

Topicals are just like other skin and bath products, but with weed: lotions are for rubbing all over the skin, balms are for localized application in areas of need, bath salts are for soaking in the tub, lubes are for sexy time, etc.

It is possible that topicals applied to thin or broken skin can breach the bloodstream, resulting in body-wide, and potentially intoxicating effects. Although technically topicals, transdermal patches are specifically designed to deliver cannabinoids through the skin and into the bloodstream, and unlike most topicals, may also cause intoxication.

Cannabis topicals recipes

Topicals FAQs: Your questions, answered

Are topicals legal?

Yes, topicals are legal for adult use in Canada. As of December 17, 2019 commercially produced topicals will be available at authorized retailers. Topicals can also be produced by individuals for personal use.

I don’t want to get high. Are topicals for me?

Perhaps they are! Topicals are not typically intoxicating, even when they contain THC, but if your hands are covered in, say, cannabis-infused coconut oil lotion, and then you put them in your mouth, you could end up feeling the effects of an edibles high. To avoid intoxication, take care to wash your hands after application, and exercise caution with THC-containing transdermal patches, as these are meant to breach the bloodstream and can cause a high.

I want to get high. Can I use topicals?

Transdermal patches breach the bloodstream and can induce intoxication, but generally topicals are best for people who want to enjoy the benefits of cannabis without the high. Topicals applied to broken skin may be intoxicating, but there are more reliable ways to catch a buzz, such as vaporizing, smoking, or eating cannabis-infused foods (aka edibles).

Besides cannabis, what else is in topicals?

Topical ingredients are as diverse as the ones you’ll find in regular (aka non-infused) skincare products. Learn about other ingredients you may wish to seek or avoid in cannabis topicals here.

Is there a THC limit on legal topicals?

Yes. Topicals can contain a maximum of 1,000 mg THC per package. There are no limits on CBD, but producers must include CBD content information on topical packaging.

Where can I buy topicals?

As of late December 2019, topicals will be available at authorized cannabis retailers. Find a store near you.

– With files from Bailey Rahn and Devon Scoble.

Leafly Canada Staff's Bio Image
Leafly Canada Staff

Leafly Canada is based in Toronto, with correspondents and contributors stretching from Newfoundland to BC. To reach our editorial staff please contact us at info@leafly.com.

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