What is the Difference between Medical and Recreational Cannabis?

Cannabis CBD

The use of marijuana is nothing new in the world. In fact, there are accounts in which marijuana was used as far back as 2737 BC when the emperor Shennong worked with his pharmacologist to write a medical book. In the book, marijuana was cited as a form of treatment for numerous conditions including gout, constipation, rheumatism, and absent-mindedness. Today, marijuana is still recognized for its value in the medical community, but what about the people who just want to get high from it? How can a plant which elicits feelings of euphoria offer therapeutic qualities for such a wide variety of different ailments. Are the benefits mutually exclusive from the recreational user who enjoys the novelty of herb vaporizers to the medical patient seeking to alleviate chronic pain? This requires a look at what marks the difference between medical and recreational cannabis in order to find the answers we seek.

Sales of Medical VS Recreational Cannabis

The first step is to take a look at how the two different forms are sold. Dispensaries are popping up all over offering people the ability to purchase both medical and recreational use products. There are far more dispensaries offering medical cannabis due to the fact not every state offers the ability to indulge in recreational marijuana. There are currently 33 states offering medical cannabis sales while recreational only is offered in 11 states. This is due in large part to the medical community touting the need to utilize cannabis products for treating patients whereas recreational use is just that.

Purchasing medical cannabis is also handled differently than it is for recreational usage. Those purchasing medical cannabis have to do so under the supervision of a medical professional. They have to be issued identification which must be presented upon entering the dispensary. An age limit of 18 has been set for those who qualify to receive the medical identification card; however, there are cases in which doctors have prescribed the use of medical cannabis for those under the age of 18 for such things as epilepsy. When it comes to recreational marijuana use, generally speaking you are only required to be 21 years of age or older with valid identification in order to enter a dispensary. In these cases, it is possible to purchase all forms of recreational use material including herb vaporizers and the flowers to use within them.

How Cannabis is Used

Looking at how cannabis is used gives a little bit of insight into why there is a differentiation between medical and recreational cannabis. Medical cannabis is used to treat individuals suffering from conditions such as:

  • Cancer
  • Anxiety, depression and PSTD
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic pain, vomiting and nausea resulting from chemotherapy
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle spasms
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nausea
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Eating disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite loss

In order to assure these patients are able to maintain the therapeutic value of medical cannabis without fear of creating cannabis dependency, careful consideration is given to the marijuana itself. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the prized chemical component doctors are seeking for their patients to benefit from. CBD does not offer the psychoactive properties found in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Doctors would prefer for their patients to stick closer to the 5% level of THC when utilizing medical cannabis. This is to prevent the patient from being unable to engage in everyday activities.

Those seeking out recreational cannabis tend towards the strains which include higher levels of THC. In practice, the levels of THC are slightly higher as an average in sales between recreational and medical cannabis to the tune of 21.5% vs. 19.3% respectively. The flip is true of CBD due to the fact recreational users do not place a value on CBD levels. As a result, recreational and medical cannabis have levels of CBD which are 1.3% vs. 2% respectively. When purchasing recreational cannabis products, there tends to be more focus on the kind of high they are seeking as well as how they prefer to achieve the high. Products such as edibles, herb vaporizers, and flowers are all available for purchase and use with the goal of getting high in mind. All of these methods of ingestion are fairly safe if you don’t overdo it. If vaping is your choice you should pay attention to the temperature of your device. As explained in this Zamnesia article suggests the ideal temperature is between 180 – 210 °C.  

Regulations to Consider

It is important to remember the industry for medical cannabis has been around longer than for recreational usage. As such, there are tighter regulations placed on producers of the products used for medical purposes. This includes everything from seed to sale. For instance, all of the pesticides used for medical cannabis have to be approved for usage, whereas recreational cannabis tends to have looser regulations. Once the plants have been harvested, they are thoroughly tested and labeled for safety and efficacy. While this kind of regulation should be involved with anything people are going to put in their body, it is even more important for those who are already afflicted with a condition.

As you see, the major difference between medical cannabis and recreational cannabis comes down to how it is intended to be used. Everything else surrounding the two uses supports the end result. While there is not a major difference between the THC and CBD levels in practice, it comes down to intent. The focus is placed on producing products high in CBD and low in THC for medical cannabis to increase the benefits while minimizing the potential for individuals to seek the high. Since many patients tend to enjoy the high regardless, this is why so many still purchase products high in THC. Regardless of whether herb vaporizers are used or a gummy is eaten or a joint is smoked, it is going to help users to get the desired result.