A conversation about Cannabis in Massage

Oregon legalized recreational marijuana in 2015. In 2016 you could purchase topical cannabis (ointments, massage oils, salves, etc.) and the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists permitted licensed massage therapists (LMTs) to use recreational topicals in their massage business.

However, this doesn’t apply to topicals obtained from a medical marijuana card as it isn’t within the scope of practice for LMTs to administer medications and prescriptions and some cannabis topicals and oils contain higher levels of CBD and/or THC.

Having access to cannabis topicals for massage is really cool but it’s important for practitioners to follow the simple rules laid down by the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists before jumping right into it!

1. Both client and therapist must be 21 years or older and the therapist has seen proof with client’s ID.

2. Obtain and sign a written consent form from the client.

3. LMT must wear gloves to apply the topical.

4. As a massage therapist you cannot charge clients extra for the use of the topical in a massage.

5. Therapists cannot sell these topicals in their office.

What is cannabis?

The genus of plant shared with marijuana and hemp.

What is cannabinoid (CBD)?

The chemical compounds in cannabis plants. Cannabis contains more than 100 active cannabinoids.

Isn’t it the same as THC?

Nope. THC is a cannabinoid but has psychotropic effects. CBD is not psychoactive. Big difference.

Marijuana is a cannabis plant that is bred for different levels of THC.

What’s the deal with Hemp?

It’s a cannabis plant too but contains less than 0.3% THC.

What does THC stand for?

Tetrahydrocannabinol. Rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?

What are natural emollients?

The word emollient comes from the Latin verb “mollire,” to soften. They are part of moisturizers. Emollients soften dry skin by filling in open spaces on the surface and between the cells in your skin with fatty substances, or lipids, derived either synthetically or through nature.

If emollients have a high content of oil they become occlusive. Basically it means the skin will be coated with a thin protective layer that seals the water in your skin. This is great if the skin needs hydration but can irritate conditions like acne and eczema if the pores are clogged.

What does this have to do with anything?

In most cannabis topicals the active ingredients list the percentage or amount of THC, CBD, menthol, lidocaine, etc. Sometimes the oil or extracts are just part of a laundry list of inactive and active ingredients that may or may not be easy to read. If you come upon “natural emollients” that means they used plant or animal-based emollients such as rosemary essential oil or beeswax.

Synthetic emollients are commonly made from petroleum, glycerine, benzyl alcohol, and hard to pronounce chemical names for what used to be animal bones or fat. Did you know Lanolin (found in most lip balm) comes from the Latin “lāna” aka wool and “oleum” aka oil, which basically is wool grease secreted by the sebacious glands of animals with wool! Fun little factoid…

Anyway, it’s important to be aware of the content of the topical that you are using as a massage therapist or as a client that brings their own into a treatment. What may appear to be “all-natural” because of its containing CBD could actually be quite the opposite.

Finally, a word of warning to LMTs wanting to hurry online and buy some professional CBD topicals for their treatments…you cannot legally charge a client extra if you use the topical during the session. You cannot sell the product to them either. But you will spend a pretty penny on these products so it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of having them available. I will write about the research and science of cannabis topicals in a separate post. For now I’ll leave you with this comparison:

1.55oz jar CBD Clinic Pro Sports cream = $76

6oz jar Bon Vital Organica massage cream = $14

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