Difference Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana

Ever wonder about the differences between medical and recreational marijuana? Nowadays, it’s not common for us to possibly think that there is no difference! That said, there is a huge difference, and if you’re in line for a medical marijuana prescription, you’ll need to understand the difference between both medical and recreational marijuana, and a little about medical marijuana dispensaries.

What Is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana will have lower tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content and is used for medical purposes to help with health conditions, pain, inflammation or anxiety. It will also yield a higher cannabidiol (CBD) content than regular recreational marijuana. Patients will first need to visit their doctor to apply for a medical marijuana card. You will have to be 18 or older, yet some conditions will allow for patients younger than 18 to purchase medical marijuana from a medical marijuana dispensary.

Medical marijuana can be purchased from any marijuana dispensary in your area. The main take here is that patients need to have a qualifying condition so that they can get a medical marijuana card. The medical marijuana card needs to be renewed regularly, and each state will have different laws. It’s up to you to read up on your state’s laws!

What Is Recreational Marijuana?

This is marijuana that is used for recreational purposes and does not require a medical marijuana card. Users will take this for the psychotic effect because of the higher THC content. You will need to check if it’s legal in your state. If it is, you can purchase recreational marijuana from any recreational marijuana dispensary if you’re over 21, and have a driver’s license to verify your age.

In some US states, it is legal to purchase the recreational pot and grow it at home. With recreational marijuana, there is no need to visit a medical marijuana dispensary. Instead, you’ll visit a recreational marijuana retail store.

THC and CBD Levels

Whether you’re a recreational or medical marijuana user, you’ll need to inspect the product labels for the amount of CBD and THC. The total CBD and THC amount will be written as a percentage on the label. THC dominant marijuana strains will yield more THC and less CBD. These brands will have major psychoactive effects, and will get you “high”.

That said, popular CBD dominant strains have less THC and does not result in any psychoactive effect. If any, they will be minimal, due to the less than 0.3 % THC, if any, in the CBD oil.

Balanced marijuana strains will contain both CBD and THC. These strains do result in a “high”, yet the differences are very apparent from the THC dominant strain. Consult with an expert from a medical marijuana dispensary to discuss dosing, and potencies.

Legal Issues

In the US laws are constantly changing regarding CBD and marijuana. 29 states approve the use of cannabis with a medical prescription card. This means that you will have to visit a medical marijuana dispensary with a medical marijuana card.


As for recreational marijuana is legal in the US, there are a few states that have approved cannabis for recreational use. These states include:

  • Maine
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Massachusetts
  • Colorado


One of the major differences between recreational and medical marijuana is the amount of CBD and THC. With recreational marijuana being stronger today than many years ago, this type tends to have more THC; it is illegal in some states and countries and is not used for therapeutic purposes. It also gets you high! On the other hand, medical marijuana has been shown to be potentially beneficial for a wide array of health conditions from seizures, cancer, digestive issues, inflammation, anxiety, inflammation and more! CBD oils are made from cannabis, and are high in CBD, and have minimal THC. The medication is used under the supervision of a physician, who will monitor the dosage and potency of the cannabidiol tincture.

A CBD expert from a medical marijuana dispensary will also advise as to the best usage. Price is always a consideration, but if you’re opting for a high-quality CBD tincture, capsule, edible or lotion, it’s important to purchase the best, which may be more expensive.

A CBD expert from a medical marijuana dispensary will be able to advise as to the terpenes and flavonoids in the CBD products, and also should be able to produce a third-party certificate of analysis. (COA) Medical marijuana patients should first determine a price range that works best for them, and then visit a medical marijuana dispensary to purchase the best CBD.

Written by Adrian Dimakis

Adrian Dimakis loves writing about everything tech, gadgets, travel and leisure as a full time editor at LearningRegistry. Adrian graduated from UCLA with a degree in journalism and marketing, and his work has appeared in publications including USAToday and The Boston Globe. When he's not testing gadgets and accessories, checking different online services, you can find him planning his next trip on a big paper world atlas with lots of pins. Adrian is also an avid consumer with an oddly deep love for finding amazing deals on amazing products.

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