Legal for recreational use in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, D.C., cannabis has become part of the national lexicon. Although the plant is most often associated with the mood-altering drug, it is also used for fuel, clothing, food, medicine, and skincare. Cannabis, hemp, and marijuana all come from the same plant species (cannabis sativa).
However, U.S. law defines the stalks, stems, and sterilized seeds as hemp and the leaves, flowers, and viable seeds as marijuana. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects, is found in the flowers. With its broad appeal, the spa industry is embracing the plant and incorporating it into products, treatments, and more.
Providing a host of skin-saving benefits, cannabis continues to make headlines. “Over the years, there has been a wide range of research showing the many benefits of hemp and cannabis sativa in skincare,” says Francine Kagarakis, a member of the board of directors for Lira Clinical. Janet Schriever, CEO of Crave Skincare, created the hemp-based skincare line after realizing the benefits of CBD (cannabidiol), a phyto-cannabinoid harvested from the sticky resin of the plant. Described by Schriever as an “anti-inflammatory powerhouse,” it is also credited with calming and soothing skin; helping to treat acne, eczema, and rosacea; and maintaining the skin’s lipid balance. Unlike THC, it is non-psychoactive.
But THC-infused oils and lotions are also growing in popularity. While the high-inducing ingredient doesn’t have the same effect when applied topically, it is thought to have a therapeutic effect. Primal Therapeutics, a mobile spa service provider in Colorado, uses salves with both CBD and THC. “Right before I started Primal Therapeutics, I was at a point that I had been doing massage for many years, and my wrists were starting to give out on me,” says founder Jordan Person. “I began applying cannabis-infused lotions and oils to my patients, and in a few weeks, I realized I had no wrist pain.” Of course, offering treatments with THC-based products comes with some challenges, as each state has different laws.
In the meantime, that isn’t stopping the folks from Nature’s Root (Longmont, CO), the first hemp-based spa, from focusing on expansion plans for future locations. In addition to providing various treatments that rely on products containing organically grown hemp-derived CBD, the spa also incorporates hemp throughout the space with a hempcrete counter, hemp rugs, hemp paper, hemp linens, hemp uniforms, and more.
The spa has escaped legal scrutiny by focusing only on cold-pressed hempseed oil and hemp-derived CBD-rich plants. “The word is definitely getting around about the benefits of CBD in the indie market and with people who are into natural health and wellness,” says Schriever. It’s clear perceptions are changing. Says Person, “The more it’s documented that there are no psychoactive effects from the topical use of cannabis, the closer we get to this movement exploding.”