Cannabis Lotion: With marijuana’s proven reputation for pain relief, it’s no wonder that topicals (products placed on the skin) have become such big business for cannabis retailers. From lotions to balms to massage oils, cannabis products have been selling faster than some companies can produce them. According to Amanda Reiman of Drug Policy, topical cannabis products “can be extremely helpful for localized pain and inflammation.” Of course, smoking, vaping, or dabbing is also helpful for pain and inflammation – but not nearly as discreet. Topical cannabis products also begin working as soon as they are applied in most cases, and do not contain much THC, making them non-psychoactive. Without a high level of THC, these products are highly unlikely to cause a failed drug test, as long as you don’t indulge in other, traceable ways such as smoking, edibles, or dabbing.
The exception to this are transdermal patches, which will allow THC to cross over into the bloodstream and cause a positive drug test – so avoid those if you are concerned or need to get a job at a company that requires a negative test. Reiman noted that cannabis topicals are similar to rubbing alcohol – you can use it liberally on the skin, but it will never make your drunk or cause you to fail a roadside or drug test. To be safe, it would be wise to reach out to the company who produces the topical you are considering using to ask them directly.
What Types of Drug Tests Are There?
If you do use cannabis topicals and other cannabis products as well, it’s important to find out which type of drug test a prospective employer uses. You can get this information from current employees, if you know any; information on drug testing policies is also often available on websites like Glassdoor. The three main types of drug tests involve urine, blood, and hair.
- Urine – Urine testing is by far the most common type of pre-employment drug screening. It also costs the least to administer, lending more popularity. In urine tests, THC left in fat cells is detected because it is washed out of the body through elimination. This type of test can determine use of cannabis as far back as 4 weeks, on average. If you are a heavy cannabis consumer, however, this test might determine your use even farther back.
- Blood – Blood tests are more effective and more costly for employers, but can detect THC in the body over the prior 48 hours in most cases.
- Hair – Hair tests are by far the most effective and detect THC metabolites in the hair follicle – these go back three months (hair tests can also show “false positives due to environmental pollution and other factors”, according to Reiman).
Discriminatory Drug Testing
Reiman noted that drug tests can be used in a “discriminatory way” that may amount to privacy violations or based on drug use assumptions by some employers – this is the type of situation you want to avoid at all costs, even if all you use is topical. Unfortunately, drug testing is still a large part of the employment game and you should always look at a potential or current employer’s drug policies to keep yourself informed. Go ahead and use that cannabis-based lotion or salve to help you with pain or other medical issues, though – you won’t test positive unless you are consuming cannabis in some other way. Another good idea is to consult the cannabis topical company and ask how much THC the product contains.