If you’ve ever been unlucky at try CBD products for pain, you may have discovered later, when you failed a drug test at work, that some non-THC products can still cause you to fail. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis and hemp products can contain up to 0.03% THC, which is more than enough to show up in a standard urine test. Fortunately, if you suffer from chronic pain, one type of cannabis product won’t fail a drug test: topicals.
Unlike most cannabis and hemp products, topicals cannot penetrate deep enough to enter your bloodstream. With that in mind, they’re never processed by the liver or kidneys, so they don’t show up in urine, saliva, blood, or hair tests. However, a small niche in the topical cannabis market can cause you to fail a drug test. Here’s everything you need to know about topical cannabis products and which ones are best for relief without failing a drug test.
Can cannabinoids in topicals cause you to fail a drug test?
Most of the time the answer is no. Topical preparations made with THC and CBD are not strong enough to penetrate through the different layers of skin tissue. Instead, they are applied to an area and provide deep relief from the skin to the muscles in the areas to which they are applied directly.
Cannabis topicals cannot reach the bloodstream or the liver because they cannot penetrate deep enough. That said, their metabolites do not show up in any drug tests, including urine, hair, saliva, or blood tests. Generally, they are safe to use, even if your employer has strict drug testing policies or if you work in a government position.
CBD and THC, the main cannabinoids in hemp and cannabis, act as powerful pain relievers, anti-inflammatories and can relieve itching when they come into contact with the skin. Topicals are an excellent choice for people with arthritis, muscle spasms, eczema, rashes, psoriasis, neuropathy, and chronic pain from injuries. For people who cannot use marijuana recreationally, topicals offer relief without the mind-altering effects or the possibility of failing a drug test.
However, beware of transdermal topicals if you’re trying to avoid a failed drug test.
However, a small corner of the topical market can cause you to fail a drug test. Be on the lookout for topical transdermal products. Transdermals usually come in the form of gels, patches and ointments. Unlike regular topicals, transdermals can penetrate through skin tissue into the bloodstream. They also cause a mildly intoxicating effect and can cause you to fail a drug test.
Because transdermal products can enter the bloodstream, they are eventually metabolized in the liver and show up in blood, saliva, urine, and hair tests.
What is the difference between transdermal topicals and regular topical cannabis products?
The topicals are all absorbed through the skin to provide centralized relief to sore muscles. Most topicals can only penetrate the top layers of skin and soothe the muscles below. Since they never reach the bloodstream, they don’t get you high. Normal topicals come in the form of lotions, creams, balms, ointments and can begin to soothe pain in as little as 10 minutes.
On the other hand, you have transdermal topicals. These products provide longer lasting relief and can penetrate much deeper than the skin. They are generally better at relieving chronic pain and do not need to be reapplied as frequently. However, this deeper penetration comes at a cost. The cannabinoids in transdermal products can enter the bloodstream and cause you to fail a drug test. Transdermal products include patches, lotions, or muscle compounds. If you’re looking to pass a drug test, you’ll want to avoid transdermal products and stick to regular topicals instead.
Remember, when in doubt, ask your boyfriend and be sure to read topical product labels carefully to better understand how they work and how they will affect you.
What to look for in topical cannabis products and how to use them
If you’re looking to pass a drug test, the first thing to do is to check and double-check the packaging. If you want to avoid failing a drug test, be sure to reread the menu at the dispensary or ask your budtender to make sure the product you’re looking at isn’t a transdermal product. Transdermal products are often found in the form of gels, applicator pens or patches.
You should also take care to look at the ingredients. If you have allergies or sensitivities to certain chemicals, you’ll want to make sure the topical is free of them. If you’re taking other medications, you’ll also want to make sure the ingredients don’t negatively interact with them. Most topicals come in neutral, unscented carrier lotions, but many contain borneol or menthol, which have a strong scent and tingling sensation like Icy Hot or Tiger Balm. If you have a preference, be sure to ask your budtender.
From there, it’s just a matter of using the cannabis topical. Start by douching or exfoliating the area you’ll be applying the topical to. This simple practice helps slough off dead skin, unclog pores, and improve blood circulation, allowing you to effectively absorb the cannabinoids (THC or CBD) in the topical.
After cleansing the affected area, pat dry and apply the topical. If you have muscle tension, arthritis, cramps, or other pain, you’ll love topicals for their ability to reduce inflammation. Just be sure to avoid transdermal products if you’re looking for relief without failing a drug test.
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