When we think of typical cannabis use, we think of smoking a bowl, bong, blunt or joint. Some stoners may also use concentrates such as resin, live budder, water hash, etc. Nowadays, we can also enjoy our cannabis in a plethora of candies, cookies, cakes, and even infused olive oils. Finally, with the arrival of CBD on the scene, products have evolved to include topical cannabis items like body creams, salves, lotions, balms. As the industry continues to change and grow to include new ways to incorporate the cannabis plant, we need to wonder: which of these fascinating new things will get us high and/or, which would show up on a drug test?
It’s (fairly) common knowledge that the consumption of marijuana can be detected on a drug test because it ends up in various parts of the body, showing up in urine, blood and even hair follicles. Cannabis is typically consumed orally (smoke, vapor, candy, etc.), which is why it can be found in these tests. So, what happens when we use cannabis in a different way? In other words, if you’re using THC/CBD cream, lotion, salves, balms, etc. are you on the road to a failed drug test and potential lost job opportunity?
The short answer is no. When using topical marijuana products, remember that your skin acts as a barrier between the outside world and the inner workings of your system. Although there is THC, CBD or other cannabinoids in the lotion/cream which is absorbed into your skin, muscles and nerves, it does not reach your bloodstream (and ultimately, your brain, where the psychoactive aspect of THC is caused), so it cannot be detected by a test. Since you’re not consuming the THC orally, there’s no way for it to get into your bloodstream.
The one caution/exception to the topical rule is transdermal patches. These work similarly to nicotine patches, and send the THC/CBD past the skin barrier where it can reach your bloodstream and your brain so you also experience the psychoactive effects. This WILL result in a failed drug test should you take one.
In the end think of topicals the same way you would think of alcohol. The only way you can increase your BAC (blood-alcohol content) is by drinking (you can’t get drunk by rubbing Grey Goose on your thigh!). The same holds true with marijuana. The only way you can put THC/CBD into your bloodstream is by oral consumption or a specific transdermal patch. So, assuming you use only topical cannabis and you’re not into smoking, vaping, or edibles, you’re set to go take your drug test and pass with flying colors! If you enjoy oral consumption, too, we might suggest holding off on the other categories before heading in for your test.