What is the Difference Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana?


Lansing and all of greater Michigan is familiar with the medical cannabis dispensary, but with recreational cannabis now available it might beg the question for beginners: so what’s the difference between medical and recreational marijuana?

While a recent poll found that 54% of Americans support legalizing cannabis nationwide, the industry is currently regulated on a state-by-state basis. As a result, some states offer both medical and recreational marijuana, while others only allow medical marijuana or don’t allow the substance to be sold legally at all.  As more states are legalizing some form of marijuana sale, it’s important to understand the difference between medical and recreational marijuana. Below, we summarize the primary differences between the two, as well as purchasing limitations for each.

What is the Difference Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana?

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is only available to people who have received a medical cannabis card due to a qualifying medical condition. While it varies on a state-by-state basis, doctors will generally grant medical cannabis card to patients with debilitating conditions, including seizures, cancer, AIDS, and fibromyalgia, among others.

Medical marijuana can only be purchased at a dispensary specifically licensed as a medical dispensary. The staff at a medical dispensary are generally better equipped to handle a patient’s medical questions than the staff at recreational dispensaries. Marijuana purchased from medical dispensaries also offer lower taxes, higher potency limits, and higher quantity restrictions. These dispensaries can also sell cannabis to minors in certain approved cases.

Outside of items with a higher potency than those sold at a recreational dispensary, both types of dispensaries sell similar items. Customers can purchase flower, edibles, vaporizers, and other common forms of cannabis from both stores.

Recreational Marijuana

Unlike medical marijuana, recreational marijuana is available to anyone over 21, provided they live in a state that has legalized recreational marijuana.

Recreational marijuana can be purchased at a licensed dispensary. People without a medical marijuana card can’t buy cannabis from a medical dispensary, but people with a medical cannabis card can purchase products from a recreational dispensary.

Staff at recreational dispensaries are not permitted to give medical advice to customers, and their customers will generally face higher taxes and a lower quantity limit than patients at a medical marijuana dispensary.

Products sold at recreational dispensaries tend to be higher in THC and lower in CBD than the cannabis sold at exclusively medical dispensaries. THC is the compound that causes the ‘high’ feeling associated with marijuana, while CBD is the primary healing compound in cannabis.

Whether you are using cannabis products to treat anxiety, pain, or to supplant another pharmaceutical medication or simply to defeat “big booze” and relax in a way that suits you, it’s A) good to understand the differences between medical and recreational weed B) live in a state that values your freedom enough to offer the products!