The thing is, our skin acts as a protective barrier, which it does an excellent job at. To give you an example of how topicals cannot get you high, consider rubbing alcohol. Those who apply alcohol to a cut are still able to drive afterwards without fear of being over the legal limit. This is because it cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream through their skin. Cannabis topicals work on the same principle. The cannabinoids bind to receptors in our skin, muscle tissue, and nerves, but get absorbed before they could permeate through our skin into the bloodstream. THC only gets users high when it reaches our brains, something it cannot do through the surface of the skin.
The caveat is transdermal patches. These work in the same way as a nicotine patch, providing patients with a strong dose of the active ingredient that is absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. As such, use of THC-rich cannabis patches is likely to result in a failed drug test.
Topicals are infused with a variety of cannabinoids. The most common is CBD, which does not contain any of the psychoactive properties that cannabis is renowned for. Instead, it is utilised for its medicinal benefits. However, some topicals do contain other cannabinoids like THC and CBN. Given that THC is the key psychoactive component in cannabis that enables users to get high, it is understandable that some remain sceptical about the use of topicals.
CAN TOPICALS CAUSE USERS TO FAIL A DRUG TEST?
Cannabis topicals are an incredibly useful way to get localised pain relief and reduce inflammation. With the market expanding rapidly, their use is becoming significantly more widespread, even extending outside of traditional cannabis users.
Depending on the method of drug testing, cannabis can be detected in your body months after it was last smoked or ingested. A hair follicle test will retain trace elements of THC for up to three months. If you have switched to topicals as a means of receiving pain relief without smoking cannabis, then it’s worth establishing when you stopped to identify if you are at risk of failing a test.
Passing a drug test could mean the difference between having a job and being unemployed. With medicinal users caught between a rock and a hard place, will the use of cannabis topicals make you fail a drug screening for THC?
“Topical” is a term used to describe products applied to the surface of the body. Balms, ointments, lotions, and salves are all included in this category. What makes them unique is that rather than being consumed orally, they are applied directly to the skin. For that reason, they are not taken as a recreational drug, but instead for exclusively therapeutic use.
There are many distinctions between marijuana and hemp that relate to CBD oil. Marijuana contains both THC (the psychoactive component) and CBD, whereas hemp contains CBD and only trace amounts of THC. Hemp contains many cannabinoids—CBD is only one example.
As it turns out, depending on the source of the cannabis that is used to produce the CBD oil, some products do contain traces of THC (including low-quality isolates and many full-spectrum tinctures).
Reasons for Failing a CBD Drug Test
Arno Kroner, DAOM, LAc, is a board-certified acupuncturist, herbalist, and integrative medicine doctor practicing in Santa Monica, California.
If you take CBD oil, there are measures you can take to try to prevent failing a drug test.
In a study conducted by researchers from the Lautenberg Center, researchers discovered that CBD was more effective for treating inflammation and pain when used with other cannabis plant compounds derived from a full spectrum product over a CBD isolate product alone. This is one reason that full spectrum products (those containing THC) are popular.