Cannabis Topicals - products such as lotions and oils that have been infused with cannabis extracts and are meant to be applied to an external body surface, including hair, skin and nails - are now legally available for sale in Ontario. This post covers how they work, the pros and cons of using them, and what to consider when shopping for these products.
- Topical cannabis products are now legal to produce, sell, and purchase in Ontario.
- Topicals offer a smoke-free alternative to inhaling cannabis
What Are Topicals?
Topical cannabis products include lotions, creams, and oils meant to be applied to the hair, skin and nails and have been infused with cannabis extracts. They contain cannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol (or CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC).
How Do They Work?
The cannabis extracts in topical products are absorbed into the skin and bind to a network of cannabinoid receptors in the immune system called CB2, part of the endocannabinoid system. CB2 receptors are believed to play a regulatory role in inflammation, which is why many topicals, especially CBD dominant ones, are advertised as having anti-inflammatory properties. It should be noted. However, that research into both cannabis and CB2 receptors is still ongoing and inconclusive at this point.
How Are Topicals Different from Other Types of Cannabis?
The main difference between topicals and other forms of cannabis is in how the body processes the cannabinoids.
When cannabis extract is ingested, it can produce effects similar to those experienced when cannabis flower is smoked or vaped. When cannabis is inhaled, its THC is absorbed by the blood in the lungs and moves quickly to the brain, which can produce an almost immediate whole-body effect, possibly within minutes due to the dense distribution of CB1 receptors in those tissues. However, when cannabis extracts are applied topically, the effects will generally only be felt locally on the area the product is applied.
As with consumption of any form of cannabis, the intensity and longevity of the effects depend on many factors, such as your weight and sex, how much food you’ve eaten that day and how quickly your metabolism works.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Topicals?
Topicals also offer a smoke-free alternative to inhaling dried cannabis, which can come with risks to lung health. Additionally, topicals are localized, allowing you to limit the effects to a specific area of your body.
The downside of topicals is that there is currently a lack of information regarding dosage quantity and frequency.
What to Consider When Shopping for Topicals
Before you purchase a topical cannabis product, please read the label or the information available on the product page at AshArio.ca, so you know how much THC and CBD, as well as the other ingredients, it contains.