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Can You Absorb THC Through Your Skin?

Can You Absorb THC Through Your Skin? | Hempfield Botanicals

“I’m afraid to use pain-relief products with THC on my skin because I don’t want to get high.” I’ve heard some version of this statement many times. All the misinformation about cannabis and how our bodies react to and assimilate the plant’s cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, has people confused and often unnecessarily concerned. 

How Topical Cannabis Products Work

Cannabinoids’ effects depend on which receptors they bind to in the body. When cannabis-derived lotions, creams, salves, and oils are used topically, the cannabinoids within them attach to cannabinoid receptors in the body, helping to alleviate pain and inflammation in targeted areas. 

Can Topical Products With THC Make You Feel High?

Typically, the answer is a resounding NO! CBD and THC applied to the skin’s surface bind to the CB2 receptors that influence the peripheral nervous system, causing a near-immediate localized reaction where the product was used. 

However, the human body will not biologically absorb THC (or other cannabinoids) into the bloodstream to affect the central nervous system unless they are applied via a transdermal patch with a carrier ingredient that enables the THC to cross the capillaries. Otherwise, rubbing products with THC on the skin won’t cause a psychoactive effect. 

Also, a study has indicated that topical products (non-transdermal) with THC will not cause positive THC blood test results. So, massaging a CBD lotion, salve, or oil with the legally allowed limit of THC into sore muscles should not violate employer drug policies. 

Always research products before buying or using them to determine their ingredients, potency, purity, testing methods, and manufacturing practices. 

Peace of Mind When Using Cannabis Topicals

If you’re still wary of using THC, look for CBD pain relief products that contain only cannabidiol (no THC). For example, Hempfield Botanicals Muscle Recovery Lotion and CBD Salve are both THC-Free and help relieve pain via formulations that include cannabidiol combined with soothing spearmint essential oil and menthol.

If you have questions about these or other Hempfield Botanical products, drop us a line. We’re always happy to answer your questions and bust cannabis myths and misconceptions.


Hess C, Krämer M, Madea B. Topical application of THC-containing products is not able to cause positive cannabinoid finding in blood or urine. Forensic Sci Int. 2017 Mar;272:68-71. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2017.01.008. Epub 2017 Jan 16. PMID: 28122323.

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