It appears cannabis is coming full circle in human history. Before the rise of prohibition in the 20th century, cannabis was used for thousands of years by various cultures, from the ancient Greeks and Chinese dynasties to the Victorian era. There’s a long historical record of the myriad ways people have consumed cannabis, from traditional smoking and edibles to infused tinctures and topicals.
Thanks to the medical cannabis movement and widespread support of legalization in recent decades, cannabis has never been more widely available and there are a dizzying array of options for consumers. Compared to vapes, concentrates and edibles, the singular properties of cannabis topicals are a popular draw.
So, can anyone use cannabis topicals today? Until federal prohibition ends, the answer to that question varies according to state regulations. But broadly speaking, anyone of legal age can tap into the benefits of cannabis topicals—though of course, it’s always wise to double-check with your primary care physician, especially if you have an underlying health condition.
Cannabis topicals are unique from other forms of cannabis consumption in their ability to be applied in a targeted manner, making them an appealing choice for medical cannabis patients, for those who want to avoid intoxication, or for those who are cannabis curious and want a gentle entry point into modern cannabis products.
Cannabis Topicals Compared to Other Consumption Methods
After decades of limited study due to prohibition, scientists are currently playing catchup to pinpoint the exact mechanisms in which cannabis compounds function in the body, and discovering what the ancients may have gotten right or wrong about the plant’s properties. However, understanding who can potentially benefit from cannabis has only expanded, particularly as non-THC cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabinol (CBN) have become more well known by scientists and consumers alike.
Not only have researchers learned a lot about the sheer variety of cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds found in the cannabis plant and what their unique properties are, but science has also come a long way in developing more refined consumption methods. While different types of cannabis topicals have been used since ancient times, a better understanding of dermatological functions and transdermal drug delivery mechanisms have improved the efficacy of these products.
Scientists also have a better understanding of how cannabis topicals work with the body’s cannabinoid receptors located outside the brain and central nervous system. One reason that almost anyone can use cannabis topicals is that unlike other methods of cannabis consumption, topicals are typically non-intoxicating.
Because cannabis topicals interact with localized cannabinoid receptors in the skin and nearby tissues, rather than being distributed through the bloodstream as with smoking or eating an edible, the amount of THC that reaches the brain is drastically reduced. Cannabis topicals can be reapplied as needed throughout the day without worries of “overdoing it.”
Cannabis Topicals and Ease of Use
Another reason anyone can use cannabis topicals in their health and wellness routine is that consumption is discreet, and as simple as applying cream to one’s skin.
Smokables have a well-recognized aroma, and traditional cannabis edibles like gummies and infused baked goods can have an unpredictable onset and effects that last longer than anticipated. While these forms of consumption also have a lot of desirable attributes that continue to make them a go-to option for many cannabis consumers, they’re not the best fit for everyone.
Cannabis topicals on the other hand are incredibly accessible; it’s no wonder that CBD and THC-infused creams are a popular consumer choice. With cannabis topicals, not only can they be used in a targeted manner, one can reapply throughout the day and combine them with other forms of cannabis consumption to dial in the exact experience one wants.
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