For recreational users who don’t like to smoke, don’t own a vaporizer, and don’t have the stomach for edibles, a new method for cannabis consumption has emerged. Cannabis-infused topicals like creams, lotions and balms infused with THC offer consumers a smoke-free high.
One of the companies leading the trend is Cannabiners, a California-based brand management company that focuses on what they call “normalization” products, including their lines of beers, coffees and teas, which are designed to offer convenient ways to introduce cannabis into one’s lifestyle.
Recently, Cannabiners teamed up with cannabis tech company Ovation Science to develop their latest product, BASKiN GLOW, which they are touting as the “first THC/CBD recreational cream.”
As advertised, the product is a pharmaceutical grade, transdermal cream made with a 1:10 CBD to THC ratio. Their main innovation behind the cream is its protective polymer coating, which keeps the cream on the skin for a longer duration while slowly releasing THC into the bloodstream.
“It’s like putting a layer of THC on your skin, then putting a protective layer over that,” Kevin Love, director of product development for Cannabiners, told Civilized. “It can’t be washed or sweated off, or, if you were to go for a swim, it stays on.”
In the past, topicals have been largely CBD-based, found in the “health and wellness” section of your local dispensary – but Love explained that the burgeoning legal market calls for a more varied and multifaceted use for their discovery.
“We didn’t want to limit our options for what products we would develop this technology for,” he said. “We realized there was a market for a version that would allow for a recreational user to engage with this product type.”
According to Love, there are a number of reasons a recreational user would want to reach for a topical cream, rather than the other, more typical methods of consumption. While smoking remains the most common, the problems that smoke-inhalation can pose to your health are obvious and well documented. Meanwhile, edibles have their own set of concerns – especially for those counting calories.
“What it really comes down to is, would you rather drink a soda, have a 300-calorie chocolate bar, or rub some cream onto your skin?” he posed.
The immediacy and the duration of the high is another reason why some will choose topicals over edibles. THC-infused foods have to go through the digestive process, meaning there is a much longer wait time before the intoxicating effects begin to kick in. Not only does this make the high difficult to plan, but it has also led to numerous instances of people overindulging because the delay makes them think that they haven't eaten enough to get the desired effect.
Love assures consumers that the experience of BASKiN GLOW is much more similar to smoking, in terms of its immediacy. Where it differs is the duration. While a typical marijuana high lasts about two hours, the topical offers a longer, “more linear” experience, giving the average user a high lasting roughly six hours, as the THC continues to be released as the polymer begins to break down. After the polymer breaks down, Love explained, the user will start to notice their high start to fade.
While most traditional, CBD-based topicals are meant to be placed on the area it is needed, Love said there's a sweet spot for creams infused with THC and CBD.
“Really, your forearm is the best location port, because you are very vascular there, and the whole point of the product is to penetrate through the skin into your bloodstream,” he said.
It also works well when applied behind the ears and behind the knees, but these are certainly not the only places where cannabis creams can be applied. In fact, there are very few areas that you shouldn't rub it on, according to Love.
“We certainly wouldn’t recommend ingesting it, or putting it on your eyes. It’s a pharmaceutical cream, so how you interact with such creams in general, is how you’d interact with this one."
Despite their clear warnings, it is not unlikely that a creative consumer might try and find ways to get even more high with the product. With that in mind, what would happen if, say, one was to take a bath in it?
“You can’t really overdose on cannabis, but you can reach a point of diminishing returns,” he explained. “As with smoking the flower, you get the point of being extremely intoxicated, then you can extend past that to a point where it becomes somewhat neutralized.”
Yes, like any other THC product, the more you consume, the higher you’re going to get - so accidentally using too much of the cream at once is a legitimate concern. Once the cream sets in it cannot be washed off, which, Love says, is “kind of the point.” A user does have a “couple of minutes” before the polymer sets in to adjust how much they are applying. While he said that this is a "desired effect," it could pose a problem for someone who doesn't know how much to apply, or is unaware that it is, in fact cannabis-infused. The basic makeup of the product makes this a difficult problem to manage but, Love said, Cannabiners is committed to helping customers manage their dosages by outlining clear instructions for proper use.
“We take dosing very seriously,” said Love. “The product currently comes in a jar, but it will soon come in clearly a pump, which will help people be more precise in how much they apply.”
Each 59ml jar of BASKiN GLOW contains 500 milligrams of THC and 50 milligrams of CBD, and will retail for $80. Those in the California and Nevada areas can pick it up in a dispensary now, and the company intends to expand the launch to eight more states by the end of 2019.