Here’s Why You Might Want to Slather Marijuana on Your Body


Photo: Gallery Stock

Thanks to ever-shifting marijuana laws, mainstream America is learning, bit by bit, what pot aficionados have long known: that THC works in beautifully mysterious ways, whether you smoke it, vape it, eat it — or, apparently, rub it all over your skin.

“People have been using cannabis as a topical for many years — in Mexico, in India — so it’s not necessarily anything new, it’s now just ‘happening’ all of a sudden,” James Kennedy, founder of Apothecanna, an L.A.-based line of cannabis-infused skincare lotions, tells Yahoo Beauty. He credits the rising media hype not only to popularity of 420 today, but to Whoopi Goldberg and her recent entrée into the marijuana-beauty world with a new line of THC-infused products called Whoopi & Maya, including a “soak” and a “rub” (available only in California to those with medical marijuana cards) that purportedly can wipe out menstrual pain.

Related: Dabbing, Vaping, and Edibles: Is There a ‘Healthy’ Way to Get High From Marijuana?

“I call it the ‘Whoopi effect,’” Ah Warner, a longtime cannabis activist and founder of the Seattle-based beauty and wellness line Cannabis Basics, tells Yahoo Beauty.


New Whoopi & Maya products include a THC-infused rub, soak, and tincture, available only in California. (Photo: Timothy White Copyright 2016)

Warner entered the world of hemp-infused body care during the hemp-product explosion of the 1990s, which petered out when the hemp — low-THC content cannabis grown for producing fiber and seed oil — which was illegal to grow in the U.S. until 2014, became too difficult to source. Warner, who imported her hemp seed oil from Mongolia, eventually shut down her business. But she started it up again a few years ago after helping a friend open a medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, where weed has been decriminalized, and learning about the many cannabinoids — the compounds of cannabis, including THC and cannabidiol (CBD) — that activate our bodies’ cannabinoid receptors for a breadth of incredibly healing results.

Related: There’s a Big, Surprising Benefit to Eating Weed Rather Than Smoking It

“I thought, I need to take all this bounty and add to my hemp products,” Warner says. “And while I don’t make curative claims [because of FTC laws], I can say my customers say the products have been life altering for them, and that they’re off steroid creams.”


Apothecanna lotions are used to ease pain and generally soothe what ails you. (Photo: Apothecanna)

So what do all these MJ-rich lotions and products do, anyway? Because cannabinoids can be absorbed through the skin, so can their many anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which have been shown to relieve eczema, psoriasis, blemishes, acne, rashes, burns, tattoos, and deep pain caused by anything, from overworked muscles to arthritis.

Warner says she hears stories of effectiveness all the time, but the anecdotes “never get old” — including the one from her friend’s dad, who had been living with a mysterious rash ever since returning from the Korean War decades ago. “He tried every steroid cream, and nothing,” Warner says. “In three days of using one of my products, it was gone.”


Cannabis Basics makes two versions of the Remedy Pain Stick — one, left, is from hemp oil only and can be shipped anywhere. The one containing CBD and THC is available only in Washington. (Photo: Cannabis Basics)

Cannabis Basics products are split into two categories — those made with hemp seed oil only, which can be sold and shipped legally all over the country, and those enriched with the THC-containing cannabis flower (available only in Washington, where a new law that Warner co-wrote allows topical cannabis health and beauty products containing less than .3 percent of THC to be sold by any mainstream retailer in the state ). Legal-everywhere items include Hemp Eucalyptus Mineral Bath ($12) and Lemon Dream Sugar Scrub ($16), while THC-rich options range from Ink 20/20 (for soothing new tattoos) to the best-selling Remedy Pain Stick (also available in a THC-free version, $16).

The Apothecanna line — sold through dispensaries in California, Colorado, and Oregon — offers lotions (starting at $40 for 8 oz.) that calm nerves, stimulate blood flow, and ease pain (the extra-strength pain reliever is the biggest seller). “Each product is built around specific symptoms,” Kennedy, who comes from a skincare background and worked for Aveda, explains. “We’re combining plant ingredients to strike the right balance or synergy, and that’s where the cannabis comes into play. It is the most effective base ingredient over any plant ingredient I’ve ever worked with.”


Cannabis Beauty Defined is the everyday skincare line from Kannaway. (Photo: Kannaway)

The cannabis, he adds, “supercharges” other elements, such as arnica, juniper, and lavender. And while Kennedy, too, offers hemp-only products that ship anywhere and which are quite effective, he says, “that 1:1 ration of THC and CBD is perfection” (and eased the pain of his father’s shingles better than any medical prescription). And while he welcomes the recent surge in attention, he also worries about quality control, noting, “My fear is that every celebrity suddenly has a cannabis line — but not a really good product.”

Kush Creams, based in Washington, sells and ships hemp-only versions of its products — all-purpose healing creams, aloe-based face and eye creams, shampoos, and tinctures — anywhere. Customer reviews are glowing and credit the THC-infused Organic Permafrost cream ($30 per oz. for the hemp-only version), for example, for easing pains caused by arthritis, migraines, fibromyalgia, menstrual cramps, and a broken shoulder.

Kannaway — a holding of Medical Marijuana Inc., the first publicly held company vested in the legal cannabis and hemp markets — meanwhile uses European hemp-derived CBD oil. It’s aiming to make its cannabis product lines — including Cannabis Beauty Defined (cleanser, exfoliant, and toner are $50 each) for daily care and Kánnactiv (with a three-part kit for $100) for acne — as slick and standard as drugstore lotions. “Beauty Defined is for everybody, every day,” Kannaway CEO Blake Schroeder tells Yahoo Beauty. “We’re trying to market it to the world as not weird and not strange.”

That pretty much matches the goal of Warner, who recently faced some blowback within the cannabis world for demonstrating in an online video how she makes her Remedy Pain Stick. “I love the idea of showing people how it’s done,” she says. “My No. 1 goal is to get these products into the hands of the masses.”

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