3 Popular Questions About Marijuana & Topicals Answered

Though consuming marijuana through your skin may seem like a modern innovation, it’s been around for centuries. Apparently, the ancient Greeks made cannabis salves to rub on battle wounds and to treat everyday skin inflammation.

For people who suffer from arthritis, skin conditions, and aches and pains after a workout, topicals are a perfect way to reap the benefits of the cannabis plant. Because the marijuana is absorbed through the skin but doesn’t get into the bloodstream, it’s also a good option for folks who don’t want a psychoactive experience when using cannabis.


We spotlight the top three Q&As from our Answers page about marijuana topicals. If you have a question about topicals that wasn’t covered here, post it on our website and someone from our community will be happy to answer your query.

Q: How to use topicals

I use topicals for lower back pain and for neck stiffness. Is it better to slather the product on thick or use a thin layer? Does it matter if it’s rubbed it in deeply or lightly? Does it usually absorb right away? Thank you!

Answer: @pamelahadfield I use topicals frequently on my lower back when I experience some acute nerve pain. I have never found that you need to use too much and yes, it should absorb quickly. I find that I will get relief within 5–10 minutes. Not everyone responds the same way, however, and what works for me may not be the same for you.

Also, Sweet ReLeaf is a popular brand you will see pop up on a lot of these links—I love their product. Other people I know love one called Flower Power, too.

I am not a doctor and this represents my opinion only. I hope this helps!


Q: Will I test positive on a urine drug test if I’m using a topical cream?

I’m currently using Apothecanna extra strength topical cream that has 25mg tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 25mg of cannabidiol (CBD).

Answer: @nptherasse Topical cannabis products begin working as soon as they are applied in most cases, and do not contain much THC, making them non-psychoactive. These products are highly unlikely to cause a failed drug test, as long as you don’t indulge in other, traceable ways such as smoking, edibles, or dabbing.

The exception to this are transdermal patches, which will allow THC to cross over into the bloodstream and cause a positive drug test, so avoid transdermals if you’re concerned or need to get a job at a company that requires a negative test.

To be safe, it would be wise to reach out to the company who produces the topical you are considering using to ask them directly.

Q: I am wondering if topicals help with libido?

Answer: @Perry Solomon, MD Good question. Cannabis in general seems to help libido. There are many theories as to why, such as causing a generalized relaxation that leads to decreased anxiety that can help a male perform better—and a female do the same. When relaxed both the partners can enjoy a more fulfilling sexual encounter.

Most of the products that seem to do this are flower, vape oil, edibles and some topicals.
One, for example, is Foria Pleasure, a topical spray for women that is sprayed in their vagina and clitoris that has been reported to increase sexual pleasure. I have not heard of a similar product for men nor of a topical that is placed on other parts of the body with the same results.

Read more answers to this question.

Photo credit: Nina Nelson

If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.


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