How Does Medical Cannabis Differ From Recreational Cannabis?

Medical cannabis use typically focuses more on the concentration and type of cannabidiol (CBD) and how it affects certain medical conditions. Recreational marijuana focuses more on the concentration and type of THC, the chemical found in marijuana that causes the high feeling.

This is a general rule that can help people distinguish between the two. For many, it’s a confusing area, especially with so much debate about marijuana in the media on an almost daily basis.

The following offers more details on the differences between medical cannabis and recreational cannabis. They may come from the same plant, but the approach in producing both is different.

Medical Cannabis

The use of medical cannabis has now been approved in more than half of the U.S. states. Each state typically lists diseases and conditions under which medical cannabis can be legally used. Most also require getting a medical cannabis card and having marijuana recommended by a doctor.

While the exact list tends to differ between states, the conditions eligible for marijuana use include epilepsy or chronic seizures, nausea in association with cancer treatments, and chronic pain. Medical cannabis also is legal in some states for use to treat anxiety.

People don’t use medical cannabis to “get high.” Instead, the CBD that naturally occurs in the plant has a positive impact on the above conditions. Cancer patients, for example, can rediscover their appetite even if going through chemotherapy. Children who experience epileptic seizures may see them reduced in frequency and intensity.

This is allowed by state law only, so it’s important to research the state laws in your area. The federal government continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule I illegal drug.

Recreational Cannabis

It’s tempting to say that recreational marijuana focuses on getting people high, but that is an oversimplification. It also calls to mind the stereotypical “stoner” sitting on the couch all day.

Nothing could be further from the truth in modern times. In the states where recreational cannabis is legal, people have started to use it as an alternative to a “drink after work” or on social occasions. It increasingly is becoming popular among professionals and with women.

In a legal, regulated system, recreational cannabis also is not like it was in the black-market days. Then, anyone who wanted to try marijuana was not only breaking the law but also buying from someone they didn’t know and having to use whatever they got.

Marijuana today is more akin to the craft beer movement. People can visit a dispensary and get advice on what strain is best for them or their situation. Some cannabis strains promote energy and focus. Others are better for relaxation on a “stay in and read a book” day or “Netflix night.”

It’s important to also realize that in a regulated environment, both medical cannabis and recreational cannabis have gone through an inspection process. That cuts out harmful material often found in the black-market marijuana of old.

Those are some of the differences between medical cannabis and recreational cannabis. They have significant differences and are designed for use in completely different ways.

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