One of the more confusing matters in the cannabis industry is understanding the difference between medical and recreational marijuana.
The medical benefits of cannabis have led 25 states (plus the District of Columbia) to legalize medical cannabis, compared with four states (plus, again, the District of Columbia) that have legalized it for recreational use.
While both kinds of marijuana are naturally grown by farmers or gardeners — as opposed to being manufactured in a lab — the main differences between medical and recreational cannabis have to do with the strength and medicinal qualities of the drug, as well as regulations regarding who should (and shouldn’t) have access to it.
While we have another article that dives deeply into the matter of how medicine is defined, here are the main differences consumers usually experience between medical and recreational marijuana, as outlined by Civilized and MMJ Reporter:
• While the marijuana you buy in dispensaries — whether medical or recreational — is typically grown methodically and organically, little is often known about the recreational pot bought off the streets.
• How you plan to use the drug can make a big difference in the strain of pot you obtain. Those using medical cannabis tend to seek out the best strains for treating their specific medical conditions. Those who use it recreationally might be less picky, or only look for strains with a high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
• Recreational marijuana often has a higher concentration of THC than medical cannabis. On the flip side, medical cannabis has more cannabidol (CBD) than recreational pot. Medical marijuana doesn’t leave users feeling as high as recreational weed, and the edible power of medical cannabis is typically higher than the power of recreational cannabis.
• Medical weed must be purchased from a certified medical dispensary, while recreational pot can be purchased from a dispensary or other licensed shop.
• Patients must be at least 18 years of age to purchase medical marijuana, while people typically must be 21 or older to purchase recreational pot. (Some states allow marijuana sales to people under 18.)
• Buyers must possess a regularly renewed recommendation letter when buying medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana can be purchased without such a letter, provided the buyer is of legal age.
• The amount of the marijuana of either kind that can be purchased varies from state to state, and the amount of medical marijuana that can be legally purchased often differs than the amount of recreational marijuana.