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Weed Massage, Anyone?

As a former editor for a skin-care and beauty magazine, I’ve been to a fair amount of spas, and I’ve tried some funky stuff in the pursuit of relaxation and radiance (Yes, I’m talking about placenta facials). But this was my first time smoking — or I suppose the correct terminology is vaporizing — inside one. It’s all part of the cannabis spa experience, though.

The legalization of weed in several states has spawned countless ganja ventures, and the benefits of topical cannabis have been touted for years. But Primal Wellness is the very first day spa to build a service menu around reefer. So when I had the good fortune of traveling to Colorado for work, I knew I couldn’t leave without getting a marijuana massage first.

To make sure I would get the most out of my rubdown, I decided to go for a 16-mile hike the day before. Needless to say, I limped more than I walked through the front door. The hemp vape was the first step in my quest for total nirvana, and I eagerly puffed away on a handheld vape pen, inhaling a sweet honeydew-flavored steam. The hemp doesn’t contain any THC, so it won’t get you high; rather, it’s meant to relax the muscles. It’s hard to say what effect it actually had, though, because it wasn’t long before I was lying facedown and being kneaded with cannabis oil, also meant to repose the body. For my part, I picked the house-made cannabis infusion with coconut oil and a medley of citrus including orange, lemon-lime and grapefruit.

It’s fair to say I was flying high. My calves turned into putty.

Since I’m sure the massage, which cost $95 for 60 minutes, would have been blissful even without the added feel-good elements, it’s more about the depth of bliss that was attained. It’s fair to say I was flying high. My calves turned into putty. Aches and pains melted away like ice cream on a hot day. But perhaps spa owner Danielli Martel explained it best when she said, “You just go to a whole other level.”

Martel became interested in the medical benefits of cannabis several years ago, when she was living in Florida. While weed wasn’t legal there, her doctor agreed that it might help her bipolar disorder. It wasn’t long before she went off all her medications. When the drug was legalized in Colorado, she and her family moved west. And last October, she opened Primal Wellness, which also offers facials, mani/pedis and meditation classes, with perhaps the most enchanting yoga studio I’ve ever seen.

Still, with few clinical studies out there, claims about topical cannabis uses are almost purely anecdotal at this point. We don’t even know if it can permeate the skin, says Dr. Ryan Vandrey, of the John Hopkins Behavioral Biology Research Center. “That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work; there just isn’t any science to back it up,” he adds. 

Regardless of whether it was the bud, the masseuse or the Rocky Mountain air, the cannabis massage succeeded in luring me into full relaxation mode (code for unconsciousness). And at the very least, it was more pleasant being lathered in plant oils than placenta.

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