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Can You Fail a Drug Test When You Use Cannabis Topicals?

For any cannabis medicinal user, undergoing drug screening for THC often leaves them in an awkward position as they wonder about their ability to pass or fail the test and what this may mean for their future employment opportunities. Cannabis topicals are effective ways of providing pain relief and reducing inflammation. With increased research and the discovery of the medicinal benefits of cannabis, we have seen its use rise significantly.

Unfortunately, society is still unreceptive of marijuana’s ability to treat and manage pain and other symptoms, making it challenging for patients who use it medicinally. Care has been taken to ensure topicals contain very little THC. However, for many users, there’s always lingering doubt over drug tests turning positive as well as the latent risks that accompany THC in their bodies.

What Are Topicals?

Topicals refer to products that are applied on the surface of the skin such as balms, lotions, ointments, and salves. Since topicals are not taken orally, they are not considered recreational drugs but are used for therapeutic purposes.

Patients apply topicals on problematic areas and these topicals get absorbed into the skin reducing pain and inflammation. This application method has cast questions over their safety and many people wonder whether they will get high after the application or test positive during a drug test.

Can Topicals Make You High?

It’s important to note that topicals contain a variety of cannabinoids with CBD being the most common. Unlike other cannabinoids, CBD doesn’t contain the psychoactive properties normally associated with cannabis but it’s used for its medicinal benefits. There are topicals that include other cannabinoids such as CBN and THC. THC is particularly known for its psychoactive properties which cause users to experience a high thus making the skepticism around the use of topicals logical.

However, one of the key roles of our skin is to protect our internal organs from possible damage. A person who applies alcohol on a wound doesn’t have to worry about driving simply because alcohol is not absorbed into the bloodstream. Cannabis topicals work in the same way. Cannabinoids get absorbed into our skin receptors, muscle tissues and nerves before they have the chance to make their way into the bloodstream. The only way THC users get high is when the cannabinoid reaches the brain and this will certainly not happen through the skin’s surface.

Will You Fail the Drug Test?

Having established that topicals will not get you high, we need to put in some caveats. A 2017 study confirmed that topicals containing THC didn’t cause a positive test in urine or blood.

The caveat, however, comes in the form of transdermal patches. Using THC-rich cannabis patches will most likely see you failing a drug test since the active ingredient, (THC in this case) is absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin.

Be Careful

It’s possible to detect cannabis months after it has been ingested or smoked. Actually, hair follicle tests retain THC residue for no less than three months. If you don’t smoke cannabis but use topicals for pain relief, it’s important for you to keep tabs on the date you stop using the topicals to gauge your risk for passing or failing a drug test.

Handle topicals with care. Should the topical come into contact with your mouth or eyes, trace amounts of THC will find their way into your bloodstream and this will trigger a positive result. Avoid rubbing your eyes or biting nails after applying topicals. Use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly when applying medicated lotions to reduce the risk of a positive reading.

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