What Is the Difference Between Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana?

In recent years, the use of marijuana has increased, particularly for medicinal purposes. In contrast, recreational marijuana users do not have medical grounds for using marijuana. Regardless of the method of consumption or for what purpose one uses cannabis, cannabis shows numerous medical benefits. 

People consume medical marijuana and recreational marijuana separately. The two also differ in terms of regulation, among other things. As a user, it is in your best interest to find the type that fits your particular need so that you can enjoy the maximum benefit.

As the use and acceptance of marijuana increases, we can see the benefits of using marijuana to treat medical conditions rather than just for leisure.

What Is Medical Marijuana?

Medical MarijuanaMedical marijuana is harvested from the cannabis plant. A significant component of medical marijuana is THC, also called tetrahydrocannabinol. It can be used in the treatment of nausea, vomiting, and even chronic pain.

Uses have linked marijuana with the treatment of seizures, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis, among others. Medical marijuana comes in different forms, including pills, drops, vaporizers, and creams.

The use of medical marijuana has become legal in 29 states including Washington D.C., with more states likely soon to follow suit. The legal status of medical marijuana varies by state—some states allow it only for specific conditions or symptoms. In contrast, others allow it for any condition for which other treatments have failed.

The overwhelming majority of CBD is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC affects the brain by activating cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are found throughout the body and regulate many functions, including sleep, appetite, pain perception, mood, and memory. 

What Is Recreational Marijuana?

People consume recreational marijuana is cannabis which is consumed mostly for its psychoactive effects instead of for medical purposes. Cannabis used recreationally serves for personal enjoyment. It can also help to reduce pain, improve mood, and increase appetite. You can get it from a dispensary or an online store.

Medical vs. Recreational

  • THC and CBD Levels

Cannabis used for recreational purposes and marijuana used for medical purposes has different CBD and THC levels. Marijuana contains THC, a psychoactive ingredient. Recreational marijuana has a higher amount of THC than medicinal CBD. Products with a higher CBD ratio have more medical benefits.

Even though THC has medical benefits, its psychoactive nature makes it unsuitable for people who use marijuana solely for medical reasons. A marijuana plant contains CBD, a substance that can be a powerful medical remedy for several illnesses. In medical marijuana, there is no need to consume large amounts of THC. 

Marijuana containing high CBD concentrations is said to have anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic properties.

  • Legal Issues

Medical MarijuanaIt is a significant difference in terms of medical marijuana vs. recreational marijuana. Cannabis, despite its long-standing popularity, has legal aspects associated with both recreational and medicinal usage. Cannabis is still subject to many restrictions for recreational use throughout the world. Many people who consume it must do so in secret since its sale is not legal.

Medical cannabis has become increasingly accepted as people realize its benefits. Many states and countries now allow medical marijuana. The illegalization of recreational cannabis in some states and countries has not made the drug readily accessible in many countries worldwide. 

  • Quality

Recreational marijuana and medical marijuana vary vastly in terms of quality. Although both varieties of marijuana are grown in the same manner, there are differences in cultivation and production. 

It depends on whether the final product will serve therapeutic or recreational purposes. For medical marijuana, a much more robust and controlled process occurs before consumption. 

As opposed to recreational cannabis, the plant is usually grown under controlled conditions, either outdoors or indoors. Moreover, the end product of medical cannabis will undergo strict regulation for issues such as pesticide use, to ensure the consumer’s safety. 

This makes medical cannabis safer and purer than recreational marijuana because of more strict quality control.

  • Variety of Purpose

When it comes to cannabis, it is always advisable to choose products that have multiple benefits instead of just one. The majority of users of recreational marijuana use it for social enjoyment and personal fulfillment. 

Conversely, medical cannabis tends to be more versatile due to its range of medical benefits. The elderly and children can easily consume medical cannabis for boosting their health.

Unfortunately, recreational cannabis is only legal for a specific age group, usually more than 21. Many states allow medical marijuana even for children due to its medical benefits.

  • The Difference in Shopping Experiences

Medical MarijuanaMarijuana for medical use and recreational use differ in shopping for cannabis. The process may follow the same path in states where recreational cannabis is legal, but some differences exist. 

To purchase medical marijuana, some states require patients to present a personal ID and a medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana cards prove that the patient is eligible to buy marijuana. 

Customers have the right to enter at one time due to privacy concerns. Usually, the people who work in marijuana stores cannot offer medical advice to customers. Still, they allow medical patients to make purchases in marijuana stores.

Additionally, some shops have dual-license to serve both medical and recreational users. Patients should only buy medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries and shops. 

Besides, medical marijuana sellers are expected to undergo extensive training and vetting like attending numerous seminars and obtaining certifications. In most cases, recreational marijuana buyers don’t get any advice or guidance from sellers since they assume you already know what you are looking into.


Even though recreational and medical marijuana originates from the same plant, there are distinct differences in using the product. Make sure you specify the goal you are using for and if you have some medical complications, consult your doctor before consuming any type of marijuana.

The bottom line is that medical marijuana users get several potential benefits due to its health benefits. Recreational marijuana users, however, gain relaxation.

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