Is There a Difference in Medical and Recreational Cannabis Consumption?

Cannabis legalization is happening in more places in the United States it seems every year.

Since 2012 when Colorado legalized recreational or adult-use cannabis nine other states have adopted adult use laws with more than 30 states having adopted medical cannabis laws.

With this new insurgence of cannabis legalization taking place across the United States and around the world more questions about this misunderstood plant are being cultivated.

Cannabis is not something new. It wasn't recently discovered in a laboratory or by some archaeological expedition somewhere. Cannabis has been around for thousands of years and utilized by virtually every culture around the world. Recordings of cannabis being utilized as a medicine go all the way back to around 2700 BC where Chinese emperor Fu Hsi referenced cannabis as Ma saying that it held both the properties of yin and yang.

Today, however, when you mention cannabis, it's a different scenario. Decades of negative anti-cannabis propaganda based off of the reefer madness era have demonized a plant that otherwise has an excellent reputation. The stigma that cannabis will make you lazy and turn you into a degenerate is very alive in the United States and other parts of the world still.

READ ALSO: Understanding Cannabinoids: THC and CBD

It's only as people experience suffering for themselves that they tend to turn towards cannabis as a medicinal option. Give them a sick loved one that has exhausted all other medical alternatives, and suddenly even the heaviest of prohibitionist will open their hearts towards cannabis. With cannabis legalization, it often tends brings up the question what is the difference between recreational or adult use cannabis and medical cannabis?

What is Recreational Cannabis

Even though hemp is a form of cannabis, the term recreational cannabis does not typically apply to these variants of the plant. Hemp only contains 0.3% THC or less. delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the phytocannabinoid founding cannabis that is known for attributing to the plant's intoxicating effects or buzz. Recreational cannabis refers to cannabis purchased by an adult that does not have a valid state-issued medical cannabis card.

Recreational cannabis is available in a variety of different cannabis strains and products. Cannabis infused edibles on the recreational side of the market are limited to a 100 mg per product dosage in most states. Recreational cannabis is also sold in the legal market with a much higher tax rate. In some areas, taxes on recreational cannabis exceed 30% of the total sale. Recreational cannabis very well may be the most heavily taxed legal industry in America.

To purchase recreational cannabis, an adult must be 21 years of age or older with a valid state-issued identification card in the U.S. and depending on the province, 18,19, or 21 in Canada. This identification must be presented and verified by security before entering a recreational cannabis dispensary. Once the verification has been approved legal adults may then speak to a budtender to make a legal cannabis purchase. This is the process of buying legal retail or recreational cannabis from a dispensary. Recreational cannabis consumers are allowed to grow cannabis plants in some states as well as gift cannabis between friends and family.

What is Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis is basically recreational cannabis with a slightly cheaper price tag. Medical patients must obtain a doctor's recommendation for cannabis to receive a state-issued identification card. This identification card is designed explicitly for cannabis patients. Once having obtained their medical cannabis card a patient can then purchase cannabis and cannabis products from any legal medical cannabis dispensary in their state or in states that have reciprocity laws. Reciprocity laws mean that one state acknowledges or accepts another state’s medical cannabis identification cards allowing patients to make purchases in states they do not live in.

Another difference between medical cannabis vs. recreational cannabis is how it is tagged. Tags are attached to every cannabis plant grown on the legal cannabis market. These tags determine whether a plant will be a medical cannabis plant or an adult use recreational cannabis plant. Truthfully, that is the only difference. Once a plant is allocated to one or the other direction it cannot be switched. This means if you grow 50 plants of OG Kush for medical cannabis consumers and 50 plants of OG Kush for recreational cannabis consumers you cannot alternate the crops between the two. If you sell out of all your recreational OG Kush first, you can't just pull OG Kush from the med side over on the rec side.

When it comes to cannabis-infused edibles, the medical cannabis side of the market is the one you want to be on if you're looking for strength and potency. Unlike the recreational market where cannabis-infused edibles are only allowed to be sold in 100mg products, on the medical market there are products reaching as high as 500 mg or more. The reason these products contain higher amounts of THC is that the patient purchasing these products have medical conditions which require stronger amounts of cannabinoids for relief from chronic pain, epilepsy, neuropathy and many other condition.

So What's the Difference Again

If you're still confused about what the difference between medical cannabis and recreational or adult use cannabis is, it's simple. It's price and potency. It's the price when purchasing flower and concentrates and the potency when purchasing edibles. Beyond that medical and recreational cannabis comes from the same plants but never from the same plant.

READ ALSO: A Beginner Guide to Cannabis

Many people will tell you that all cannabis consumption is medicinal. If you smoke a joint, do a dab, or eat an edible to relax or reduce pain, then it's medicinal. In this instance, all cannabis becomes medical. Endocannabinoid deficiencies are real, and they could be responsible for the plethora of medical conditions plaguing society today. It wasn't until the last 80 years during marijuana prohibition that so many medical conditions seemed to be cultivated.

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