MARCH 30, 2016 6:10 PM by EVIANA HARTMAN
As state laws allowing the use of marijuana—medical or otherwise—continue to relax like the crowd at a Phish show, places like Colorado, Washington, and California are turning out products unlike anything the world has seen before. Vape pens that double as design objects? They exist, even if you can’t buy them outside Oregon. Pot-infused granola bites from a James Beard Award–winning pastry chef? They’re coming, Chicago. Yet perhaps the most promising use for the plant is in a form that doesn’t even get you high. Cannabis is turning up in a host of new skin balms, lotions, oils, and bath salts, promising body benefits ranging from pain relief to better orgasms.
These potent products take the pot connection a step beyond those made with hemp seed oil, the moisturizer found in body-care brands like the recently launched Marley Natural line. That legal substance softens skin, but it doesn’t contain measurable amounts of cannabinoids, the naturally occurring compounds found in the flowers and leaves of the plant.
THC, the compound responsible for marijuana’s signature buzz, is the best known of these. CBD, another cannabinoid also found in both marijuana and industrial hemp plants grown for fiber, is non-psychoactive and a proven aid for pain, nausea, and anxiety (plus, if isolated and extracted from industrial hemp, it’s legal). But according to Ah Warner, founder of Washington–based body-care lineCannabis Basics and an activist for the industry, there are hundreds more of such compounds, each with unique healing properties. “They’re anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, analgesic, cell-regenerative, and anti–cell proliferative for bad cells,” she says.
And when applied topically, cannabinoids can bring localized benefits without detectable brain buzz. Think of them as a natural high for your bum knee, or that pesky patch of irritated skin. This Vogue editor swears by Apothecanna’s minty, cooling Extra Strength Relieving Body Crème, a gift from a friend in L.A., for lower-back stiffness.
Most cannabinoid skin-care products on the market are designed to soothe achy spots or surface issues such as eczema. But those applications are just the tip of the iceberg: Oraximax, a forthcoming oral-care line, will tap into the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of the cannabinoid CBG. Kannactiv andCannabis Beauty Defined, two skin-care lines from the same parent company, contain hemp-derived CBD as part of their formulas for clearing acne and combating signs of aging, respectively.
Last but not least, there are even cannabis topicals for the bedroom. Leading the charge is Foria, which claims its THC-heavy Pleasure oil for women, when applied externally and internally, increases blood flow and nerve sensation—amplifying sexual pleasure and intensifying orgasms. (Less titillating, though equally ingenious, are its CBD-rich Relief suppositories, designed to ease cramping and pelvic pain.)
Dr. Jennifer Berman, M.D., a prominent sexual-health advocate and clinician in Los
Angeles, prescribes both Foria products to patients regularly—and is, in fact, such a fan of the line that she recently discussed it on Conan. “Perimenopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal women who have noticed a decline in response have had great success with it,” she says of the oil. “Younger patients who have difficulty achieving orgasm have had enhanced response with it as well.”
All of which immediately sparks the question: How, and where, to get it? Some companies, like Oregon-based Empower Bodycare and Colorado-based Apothecanna, ship CBD-only versions of their products nationwide. But as Empower Bodycare founder Trista Okel points out, marijuana extracts that include THC “work better—this is because of the ‘entourage effect,’ in which the combination of cannabinoids are greater than the sum of their parts,” she explains.
In states where marijuana is legal, like Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, anyone of age can buy the products from cannabis dispensaries, though some marijuana-derived brands, like Cannabis Basics, sell only in the states where they’re made. Medical cardholders can access dispensaries in states like California and Illinois. Some companies, such as Foria for patients in California, allow online orders from certain medical-marijuana states once you’ve submitted the appropriate paperwork.
For the curious, the products offer an excuse to visit Portland or Seattle or Aspen this spring. “They’re effective, and they’re nonthreatening,” Warner says. “There’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t have access to them.” In any case, the anecdotal evidence appears highly promising.