How Does Topical THC Work? | Discover Marijuana

Topical cannabis products, or cannabis products intended to be applied directly to the skin, can help patients with a variety of conditions, including muscle pain, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis.

Balms tend to have the longest-lasting effects, but some patients may prefer the familiar consistency of lotions. Medical cannabis topicals often contain THC, but they don’t cause the “high” feeling commonly associated with the drug.

Topical treatments often use other chemicals to help the body absorb medicines like THC and CBD. We talked briefly about one of those chemicals, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), and why it has fallen out of favor.

What are your favorite topicals and what are you using them to treat? Share your experiences and help others Discover Marijuana in the comments.


Tim Pickett, PA-C is a Medical Cannabis expert and the founder of Utah Therapeutic Health Center. As a Qualified Medical Provider, Tim works directly with patients in need of Medical Marijuana recommendations and treatment plans. Salt Lake City Weekly readers voted Tim Utah’s Best Medical Cannabis Doctor (QMP) in its “2021 Best of Utah mind and body” edition.

Blake Smith is the Chief Science Officer at Zion Pharmaceuticals and an expert in the biochemistry of cannabis. Blake has a keen understanding of cannabinoid compounds and their effects on the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Kylee Shumway is the Pharmacist in Charge at WholesomeCo, a Medical Cannabis pharmacy in Bountiful. Her interest in cannabis medicine also began in college, when an organic chemistry professor sometimes mentioned the compounds in marijuana.

For more information on getting a Utah Medical Marijuana card or Utah marijuana laws, visit

Learn more about cannabis strains available in Utah at

Find a Medical Cannabis pharmacy near you at

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Published November 3, 2021

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