With so many medical marijuana patients seeking treatment for pain, cannabis topicals have become a popular way to medicate.

Like any other medicated lotion or cream, cannabis-infused topicals are applied to the surface of the skin to provide localized (specific to a certain area) relief for pain and inflammation.

Because most contain little to no THC, cannabis topicals offer the therapeutic benefits of mmj without the characteristic “high” associated with inhalation or ingestion, which makes them ideal for patients looking to ease into medical marijuana use.

Senior Man Suffering With Neck Pain Sitting On Side Of Bed At Home

What types of pain can mmj patients use topicals for?

Pain comes in many forms and is a symptom of a broad range of health problems and conditions. Below are some of the more common conditions for which mmj patients rely on cannabis topicals:

Back pain

Bruises and burns

Cramps (including menstrual cramps)

Joint pain (as from arthritis)

Muscle pain and soreness

Muscle spasms

Neck pain


Swelling and inflammation

They may also be used to treat chronic (and often painful) skin conditions including acne, eczema, and psoriasis as well as acute skin conditions such as rashes, insect bites, and stings.

One of the key benefits of cannabis-infused topicals is how quickly they start to provide relief. Unlike smoking or consuming edibles, topicals skip much of the digestion and absorption process by providing relief directly at the source of the pain or discomfort.

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How do they work?

In previous blogs we’ve talked about the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which keeps the body in balance by regulating and maintaining the different bodily systems and their functions. Not only does the ECS control things like sleep, appetite, digestion, memory, and stress response, but it also plays a role in how we respond to pain and inflammation.

The ECS uses millions of cannabinoid receptors, located on every cell surface, to relay messages inside each cell and trigger certain responses based on what’s going on in the body.

Of the two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB2 receptors are most often found on skin cells. The beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes in mmj topicals interact with the CB2 receptors on the surface of the skin to provide immediate and effective relief to the problem area.

When shopping for cannabis topicals, look for products that contain multiple cannabinoids and terpenes to ensure you reap the full benefit of the whole marijuana plant. If you have questions about which topicals may work best for your condition, your budtender should be able to point you in the right direction.

DR Blog – How Do Cannabis Topicals Work

Will cannabis topicals make me fail a drug test?

No—for the same reason they won’t get you high even if they contain a small amount of THC.

Unlike inhaling or ingesting your medical marijuana, cannabis topicals (and the cannabinoids contained within) are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, they are carried across the skin cell membranes and directly absorbed by those CB2 receptors we talked about.

That means your topical medication won’t show up on a drug test, and you won’t have to worry about any psychoactive effects.

THC/CBD relief balm

A few quick tips before using topicals!

Medical marijuana-infused topicals have no risk of overuse, so feel free to use them as often as needed. However, we recommend following these quick tips before and after each application:

  • Clean the area where you will apply your topical product to remove any sweat, bacteria, or impurities. A damp washcloth or paper towel should do the trick.
  • Be generous when applying your cannabis topicals; more than one coat is typically recommended for faster, more potent relief.
  • Firmly massage the lotion, balm, etc. into the skin to ensure its effectiveness.  
  • Wash your hands after applying the cannabis topicals to ensure they do not come into contact with your eyes, nostrils, or mouth (especially since many products will also contain essential oils such as capsaicin or eucalyptus, which can cause irritation).

Ready to give topicals a try? Check out our selection at Desert Rose.

Here at Desert Rose Dispensary, we love that topicals are bringing the benefits of medical marijuana to an even wider population of patients.

If you’re one of the millions of mmj patients dealing with daily pain and discomfort, experimenting with different delivery methods like cannabis topicals is a great way to find the treatment that works best for your body and your lifestyle.  

Call Desert Rose today at 623.516.7881 or visit us in Phoenix on the corner of 7th Avenue and Happy Valley Road to check out our selection of cannabis-infused topicals. Our friendly and knowledgeable budtenders are here seven days a week from 8:00AM to 10:00PM to answer your questions about safe and natural treatment with medical marijuana.

And one last thing! Have you heard about our dispensary deals? We offer some of the best deals in the Phoenix area, including $20 off your entire purchase for first-time patients! We also offer everyday discounts for veterans, seniors, ADA patients, and SNAP card holders.

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