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What Is The Difference Between Medical And Recreational Weed

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Dr-Weedy Medical Team Chromometer 7 min

The simplest answer for the question “What is the difference between medical and recreational weed?” is that they are the same thing. Any marijuana can be medical if used for medical purposes, the same goes for the regular one. However, there is a number of aspects that are worth knowing. The most important issue is whether you are buying or using pot in the state where it is allowed, or where it is outlawed. Let’s see this and a few other questions in more details.

The History of Marijuana

History of marijuana 1000 years

Marijuana have been known for thousands of years, both its therapeutic and recreational effects. Here are some facts of the history of weed:

  • something about 5 thousand years ago, weed was mentioned as a popular medicinal herb in China;
  • marijuana oil was mentioned in the Old and New Testaments as a part of the Holy unction;
  • Egyptians treated glaucoma and inflammations with the help of cannabis more than 3 thousand years ago;
  • ancient Indians, Greeks, and Persians used weed for medical purposes, too;
  • as for the recreational use, ancient Scythians, according to Herodotus, smoked flowers and seeds of marijuana to relax and get high;
  • hashish became very popular as a recreational drug in the Middle East after the spread of Islam there, more than 12 centuries ago.

Marijuana was brought to the United states in the beginning of the 20th century by Mexicans. In the early 1930’s, it was prohibited by law for both uses, and the legalization of marijuana began in 1996, when California and Washington allowed it for certain severe medical conditions.

Legal Status

Cannabis legal status

There is one common thing true for both medical and regular marijuana is that it is outlawed by the US federal law. It means that you should think twice when going traveling with weed from state to state. There are only 33 of them where you can buy and use it legally, but only for health-related purposes. You’ll want to have your MMJ card and a doctor’s prescription to prove that you are not breaking the law. There are 11 states with medical and recreational weed allowed for use, possessing, and even growing. There you can smoke pot at your own leisure, without any cards or documents.

Chemistry of Medical vs Recreational Weed

Chemistry of marijuana

Marijuana has two main working chemical compounds — CBD and THC. The former is the one that has all healing power and this is why medical weed is rich in cannabidiol. On the contrary, if you want to feel high, you’ll need the strains of marijuana that contain more tetrahydrocannabinol. This working ingredients affects the brain, providing relaxation and euphoria.

Age Requirements

Permissible age of smoking weed

This is another significant difference between medical and recreational weed. Commonly, marijuana is allowed only for adults. But you have to be at least 18 years old to use it for health conditions, and in case of serious problems a doctor can prescribe cannabis to kids. As for the regular hemp, you cannot buy, possess, or use it before you turn 21.

How to Buy Medical and Recreational Cannabis

How to buy marijuana

You can buy medical cannabis only in special dispensaries and clinics. For this, you’ll need:

  • to have a health condition and a prescription from your doctor that confirm your need of marijuana;
  • have MMJ card and personal ID with you. Important note — to get the card, you have to be a resident of the state where you want to apply for it;
  • go to the closest or your favorite weed dispensary, or a clinic;
  • wait in line, choose the product you like, and buy it. Note — you’ll want to learn more about all kind of marijuana products and ways of consumption before going to the dispensary for the first time.

Everything is much easier with the recreational pot as long as you are in a friendly state. It is sold in bars, cafes, dispensaries, and other businesses.

How Much Is the Weed — Medical vs Recreational?

Recreational and medical marijuana price difference

The price of weed varies from state to state, but it is similar for medical and regular products. However, MMJ card holders save lots of money on marijuana. It happens because of tax difference. Let’s compare:

  • the smallest difference is in Massachusetts, where you’ll pay 0% of taxes for medical marijuana vs 6.25% plus local taxes for recreational one;
  • the biggest difference is in Washington, 0% vs 37%!

The luckiest people live in Alaska, where the tax rate is zero for both. California has 7.25% tax rate for recreational pot. In dollars, it makes more than a thousand dollars of savings per year.

Uses and Benefits of Medical Marijuana vs Recreational Marijuana

Uses and benefits of weed

Regular weed is used to get high. Smoking joints or eating cooking brings fun, relaxation, and good mood, and helps us to socialize. Medical cannabis is taken to improve health and mitigate manifestations of various diseases:

  • pain;
  • seizures;
  • vomiting, appetite disorders;
  • sleeplessness;
  • glaucoma;
  • mood and psychiatric disorders.

There are many more of MMJ indications, you should ask your doctor for details.

Downsides of Cannabis

Side effects CBD and THC

Comparing side effects of medical marijuana vs recreational marijuana, we can see that both are relatively safe. CBD does not cause any adverse reactions, while THC can alter thinking, make you hunger, happy, afraid of something, put you to sleep, etc. None of these side effects is life threatening or even dangerous, and all of them pass with time.

How to Use Weed Responsibly — Recreational vs Medical

Medical marijuana guarantee of your security

Another benefit of the MMJ card is that in most cases you’ll have any troubles with police. Here are some things to remember:

  • traveling from state to state with weed, learn the local cannabis regulations beforehand. Even legally purchased pot get you into jail in some states;
  • the doctor’s recommendation and prescription should be updated regularly;
  • do not sell cannabis unless you have a license;
  • never share your weed with minors, it is illegal everywhere.

Recreational marijuana has much more rules, this is why even in the states where it is legalized it is better to have the MMC with you to stay on the safe side.



Both medical and recreational weed have their ups and downs, but medical one provides you with significant advantages:

  • it is safer;
  • you’ll not get into trouble;
  • it saves you money;
  • and it is available in more states.

Buy your weed from trusted and reliable suppliers, follow the rules, and enjoy your marijuana.

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