It goes without saying that the legalization of recreational cannabis by Colorado and Washington in 2012 became a memorable milestone in the history of the herb. It won’t be an overstatement to say that we are witnessing a true, green revolution in America right now. With California and several states jumping on the legalization bandwagon, and with Canada legalizing the plant nationwide, we are one step forward in our endeavor to shed the stigma off the cannabis community once and for all.
However, the majority of U.S. states still allow only the medical use of marijuana, while the so-called recreational use remains a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the state. If you want to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, you will have to apply for a medical marijuana recommendation or an MMJ card.
So, what’s the actual difference between medical and recreational cannabis?
Key Differences Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana Explained
To begin with, both terms “medical marijuana” and “recreational marijuana” are inaccurate and can be misleading because this would imply that whether marijuana is recreational or medical depends on the type of the plant.
I would rather use terms like “the medical use of marijuana” or “the recreational use of marijuana because that’s what it is.
For example, if you take the Super Silver Haze strain, you will probably notice that it has a nice pungent, citrus aroma. When you consume it, be it by smoking, vaping, or eating weed-infused edibles, you’re going to experience the characteristic effects of the strain.
It may make you feel a pleasant tingling sensation in the back of your head, it can give you a creative buzz, or make you craving for some mouthwatering food. It sounds like a perfect strain for relaxation, doesn’t it?
But, at the same time, Super Silver Haze can stave off stress, reduce anxiety, and ease that pain in your back you start to curse at. It’s a good indicator of its medicinal potential if you ask me.
To cut the long story short, cannabis is cannabis, period. You can use it either for recreational or medicinal purposes, but it’s still the same plant. Of course, some cannabis strains are specifically bred to address specific conditions in a more accurate way, but that’s a story for another article.
The Medical vs. Recreational Cannabis Purchasing Process
To be honest, there is no big difference in the shopping experience when it comes to buying medical and recreational marijuana. Qualified medical cannabis patients need a valid proof of ID to prove their age in order to buy their medication from a dispensary. Some cannabis dispensaries have dedicated waiting rooms where patients can consult their conditions with a physician in privacy.
Recreational stores, on the other hand, are not allowed to give medical advice to customers as they do not have the required license. Nonetheless, you can still shop at them as a medical marijuana user. There are also “dual-licensed” shops which offer a full spectrum of marijuana services and they cater to the needs of both medical and recreational users.
If all you want is buy your favorite cannabis strain to enjoy the recreational benefits of the herb, go ahead and shop at your local dispensary; that is, of course, if you live in a state or country where the so-called “adult use” of marijuana is legal.
However, if medical advice and professional knowledge is your priority, I would recommend medical and dual-licensed dispensaries, especially those that care about the education of their budtenders.
Medical vs. Recreational Cannabis Product Selection
Both recreational and medical dispensaries offer the abundance of different marijuana products, namely:
Who’s In a Better Situation at the Moment?
Currently, medical marijuana users are the more privileged group. They receive certain perks that are out of reach for recreational cannabis. These are as follows:
Higher THC potency limits
Lower prices and taxes
Medical users are allowed to grow their own marijuana plants
They can also carry up larger amounts of cannabis
What is the Public View on Medical and Recreational Marijuana Users?
The social perception of recreational marijuana users has changed throughout the last couple of years. Although using cannabis for enjoyment is still taboo in some communities, more and more people become aware of its advantages over other recreational substances. Marijuana finds particularly strong support in female users, who begin to give up on alcohol in favor of the herb.
Still, a greater percentage of Americans support medical cannabis than recreational adult use, mostly because, despite the differences, we all agree that our health is of the utmost importance. Nevertheless, when a state legalizes the recreational use of cannabis, consumers might first get attracted by the easy access to a wide range of high-quality marijuana products, only to discover that a particular form of cannabis works wonders for their condition.
Regardless of the point of view you take, it’s a win-win situation.