Topicals are cannabis infused creams, ointments, and oils that are applied to and absorbed through the skin to reduce pain and inflation. Although these products contain THC, they do not enter the bloodstream and therefore, do not cause psychoactive effects.  In recent years , transdermal patches have been introduced for sustained cannabis delivery.  For full body effects through topical application, look at the Transdermal Gel and Transdermal Patches. Transdermal patches deliver a steady stream of cannabinoids to your bloodstream. 


When you use a cannabis infused topical, cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) bind  to the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system which are present in skin, muscle, tendens, ligaments, and nerves. The ensuing relief can occur in 1-2 minutes with a strong topical. Although, some patients report up to 30 minutes for onset time. The first time that THC Topical Cream is used, the patient should put a small amount on the skin and wait at least one hour to ensure that there is no allergic reaction. When using THC Topical Cream the patient will usually feel an effect in 15-30 minutes after application and the effect will usually last 2-6 hours, or longer. The effect may be stronger on thinner skin (such as the joints) than on thicker skin, such as the back. Apply a small amount to the affected area and rub it gently into the skin. Repeat every 4-6 hours as needed. 


While topicals are almost commonly used for joint and nerve pain, other topicals used are for headaches, menstrual cramping and muscle spasms. Patients have also reported that topicals have helped their eczema,  psoriasis, itching and skin ulcers. 


The strength of a topical (mg THC and CBD per ounce) is the main determinant of effectiveness.  We recommend a topical of at least 300mg THC or THC and CBD (in a 50:50 blend) per ounce. Most topicals are made from concentrates, but some patients prefer topicals made directly from flower. With the application of a strong topical,  pain relief starts literally in a minute or two.  


TIP: If you find that your topical is not strong enough, you can increase the potency by adding tincture drops to the lotion! 


At Express Cannabis Cards, we have found that not all topicals on the market are created equally. MOST do not contain enough THC/CBD to help those with chronic pain. Our research has lead us to a few products that can be found locally in our dispensaries. Below is a list of our favorite topicals: 

  • MUV – Pain Relief Cream (200mg CBD/200mg THC) 
  • Grow Healthy – Relief Salve (250mg THC : 250 mg CBD) 1 oz jar
  • Curaleaf – THC Balm (300mg THC)
  • Trulieve – Topical Cream (250mg THC)
  • Fluent – Elara (300mg THC: 300mg CBD) 2oz jar
  • Liberty Health Sciences – Lemon and Grass (600mg)  

David G. Balter MD
Medical Marijuana Doctor