Difference Between Medical And Recreational Marijuana

Difference Between Medical And Recreational Marijuana

October 15, 2019 0 Comment

While the word “marijuana” evokes illicit activities, there’s a great deal of evidence to prove that marijuana is more than that. This article will shed light on the medicinal properties of the plant, along with its potent recreational abilities.

Marijuana is a drug obtained from the hemp plant. Flowering tops, stems and leaves containing the chemicals, which are widely used for both medical and recreational purposes. 

Medical Marijuana Vs Recreational Marijuana

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about Medical and Recreational Marijuana.

  • What Is Medical Marijuana?
  • What Is Recreational Marijuana?
  • Difference Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana
  • What Is Medical Marijuana Used For?
  • What Is Recreational Marijuana Used For?
  • Different Compounds of Medical & Recreational Cannabis
  • Differences Between THC and CBD
  • Different Forms of Medical Marijuana
  • Different Forms of Recreational Marijuana
  • Health Benefits of Medical Marijuana
  • Benefits of Recreational Marijuana
  • How Do You Get Medical Marijuana?
  • How Do You Get Recreational Marijuana?
  • Which States Allow Medical Marijuana?
  • Which States Allow Recreational Marijuana?

What Is Medical Marijuana?

  • Either the whole flowering shoot or leaves can be used for medicinal treatment or any particular chemical found in the plant might be extracted for medicinal usage.
  • There are around 100 chemicals called cannabinoids found in marijuana, each of which has a different effect on the body.
  • Cannabidiol is the main chemical, which is primarily used for medical value. 
  • Cannabidiol, unlike THC, is known to have non-psychoactive effects and therefore, doesn’t give the “high” and helps alleviate the symptoms in certain diseases.
  • Cannabidiol in medical marijuana helps to reduce pain, anxiety, control nausea and vomiting, kill cancer cells, relax tight muscles and even stimulate appetite.
  • The chemical is known to treat two severe forms of epilepsy, cure nausea and vomiting symptoms caused by cancer chemotherapy, treat mental illnesses like schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Anorexia etc.
  • Marijuana plants primarily Cannabis Indica genus of plants, a short bushy structure, are primarily used for extracting cannabidiol or for making medical marijuana. 
  • Medical marijuana is taken either in the form of derivatives like oils, creams, topical lotions, sprays, suppositories, etc.
  • Medical marijuana has been legalized in 33 states in U.S as well as in District of Columbia.
  • To procure medical marijuana, a patient should have a doctor’s written recommendation and qualifying condition for marijuana treatment. The qualifying conditions are different for different states. 
  • The patient also needs to have a medical marijuana ID card to further procure marijuana from a medical marijuana dispensary in his state.

What Is Recreational Marijuana?

  • Marijuana which is consumed to intentionally change one’s state of consciousness, producing a sense of euphoria.
  • Recreational marijuana is extracted from Cannabis Sativa, a tall and skinny plant structure, for its higher THC concentrations. 
  • Usually the recreational marijuana products are in the form of edibles, concentrates, smokes and vapes.
  • Since the drug has chemicals, very similar to the ones found in tobacco, it is highly addictive.
  • Some of the major effects of recreational marijuana are bloodshot eyes, dizziness, loss of coordination, dizziness etc.
  • Unlike medical marijuana, recreational marijuana can be obtained by anyone who meets the age bar of 21(after producing age verification documents), in legalized states, from any recreational marijuana dispensary.
  • Recreational marijuana products have psychoactive effects, containing high concentrations of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which alters the state of mind. In short, when consumed, the drug brings about an intoxicating effect, also known as a state of being “high”.
  • Recreational marijuana has been legalized in just 10 states in U.S so far.

Difference Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana

Medical MarijuanaDerived from Cannabis Indica genus of hemp plantsMedical marijuana products are more potent with CBD, a non-psychoactive chemicalIt is non-psychotic in nature and therefore doesn’t alter the mental state of the patientMedical marijuana is meant to medically address physical and mental health issues Requires medical marijuana ID card along with a doctor’s written recommendation and an age proof of 18 years of ageCan be availed only through a regulated and licensed medical dispensary in one’s legalized state
Recreational MarijuanaDerived from Cannabis Sativa genus of the plant.
Recreational marijuana is higher with THC, a potent psychotic chemicalRecreational marijuana is high on THC and induces a psychoactive effect. 
Recreational marijuana is taken to willingly alter one’s state of mindRequires only age verification document (citing the buyer is 21 years at least) and nothing elseCan be availed at any recreational marijuana dispensary (in states where it has been legalized)

What Is Medical Marijuana Used For?

Human body makes marijuana like chemicals naturally in the body to control pain, inflammation and other process. However, under certain conditions marijuana helps the natural chemicals to function better by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the body and brain.

  • Medical marijuana is used to treat muscle spasms caused by Multiple Sclerosis, nausea, pain and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, poor appetite and weight loss caused by HIV or nerve pain, seizures due to Epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, mental illnesses like Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease etc.
  • FDA approved THC through drugs like Dronabinol and Nabilone to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy.
  • Medical marijuana may be smoked, taken as mist through a vaporizer, eaten or consumed as a liquid extract.
  • The side effects of the medical cannabis can range anywhere from dizziness, bloodshot eyes, depression, fast heartbeat, hallucinations and low blood pressure.
  • Only patients with heart disease, pregnant women and patients with psychosis history are not prescribed with medical marijuana.

What Is Recreational Marijuana Used For?

  • Recreational marijuana is used for getting into a feeling or a heightened sense of joy or euphoria, often referred as “high”.
  • Side effects could be reddened eyes, increased heart rate, panic attacks, anxiety, impaired balance, loss of coordination. 
  • Prolonged use of the recreational marijuana can lead to depression and anxiety, especially with those having history of mental illnesses.
  • Recreational marijuana is available in the form of sprays, tinctures, cigar or pipes, vape pens, edibles, etc.

Different Compounds of Medical & Recreational Cannabis

  • There are about 500 distinct compounds in Marijuana plant, including cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids and omega fatty acids. 
  • Terpenoids give the distinct aroma in cannabis, while cannabinoids are the ones around which the medicinal and recreational properties revolve. 
  • So far, around 100 cannabinoids have been identified, but the most well-known is Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which gives the “high” in recreational cannabis.
  • THC is responsible for altering the mood, emotion and gross motor functions. This compound is widely used in recreational marijuana products.
  • Medical marijuana has cannabinoids like cannabidiol or CBD are non-psychoactive in nature and therefore, labelled safe even when taken in large quantities.

Differences Between CBD and THC

CBDLacks psychoactive effectUsed to treat seizures, depression, inflammation, mental disorders, migraines and inflammatory bowel diseaseIt does not have any side effects and is safe even when taken in large quantities (as per WHO),CBD is taken as gels, supplements, gummies and oilsMarijuana with CBD or medical marijuana has been legalized in 33 states,
THCHas strong psychoactive effect/” high” effectUsed for glaucoma, low appetite, insomnia and muscle spasticity.It can cause dry mouth, bloodshot eyes, slow reaction time, loss of coordination, memory loss, increased heartbeat and dizziness.THC is taken through smokable products like cigars and through oils, tinctures, edibles like brownies and capsules as well.Recreational marijuana containing THC has been legalized in just 10 states.

Different Forms of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana, irrespective of the way it taken helps relieve acute and chronic pain by binding to the cannabinoid receptors (already present in our body). The below mentioned are different forms of medical marijuana.

  • Handheld pipe or device, water bong, a joint (rolling papers) are ways to smoke medical marijuana to get instant relief.
  • Like smoking, vaporizing is slowly gaining effect. Inhaling the marijuana as mist through a vaporizer is another way of gaining medical effects of the plant. 
  • Topical creams and lotions are known to relieve arthritis like pain and even muscle soreness. They help in acting at a localized area for pain.
  • Sprays or droplets when put under the tongue, allows the saliva to absorb the medicinal effect. 
  • Capsules and pills are another form. There are suppositories and other cannabinoid medicines, approved by the FDA to help ease symptoms like nausea and vomiting caused as a result of cancer chemotherapy.
  • Medical marijuana can be infused in foods for medicinal effect as well. The THC usually gets extracted and then gets mixed in food or drink to give the desired medicinal effects. Edible medical marijuana foods and drinks are also gaining popularity.

Different Forms of Recreational Marijuana

  • Recreational marijuana, usually appears in the form of green, brown or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers.
  • Smokable products by way of rolls and cigars is a popular choice.
  • Stronger forms of marijuana include hashish and resins like hash oil, wax and shatter (amber colored solid), containing high dose of active ingredients.
  • Recreational smokable marijuana forms also come as vape pens, marijuana cigars called blunt, marijuana oil for cooking, marijuana cookies, gummy bears, chocolate bars.
  • Marijuana oils available can even be added into beverages, sodas and energy drinks to teas and elixirs. As edibles, lollipops, brownies, cakes and hard candies are just a few more examples.
  • Also available as sprays, it can be sprayed directly under the tongue for a quick high or sprayed at marijuana joints and blunts.
  • Marijuana tinctures, a solution in alcohol can also be put under the tongue for fact effect.

Health Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Cannabidiol often found in medical marijuana helps to alleviate pain. It helps to address,

  • Two severe forms of epilepsy, called Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.
  • Appetite loss
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Cure pain, nausea and vomiting symptoms caused by cancer chemotherapy
  • treat mental illnesses like schizophrenia 
  • Cancer
  • Eating disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Anorexia

Benefits of Recreational Marijuana

  • Since recreational marijuana causes a heightened sense of taste, it causes the person to eat slightly more when they are high on the drug. 
  • Other than a taste, hearing and smelling also becomes enhanced.
  • Smoking or consuming recreational marijuana often makes people shed their inhibitions, allowing them to push beyond their already known limits.
  • Often known as the meditation drug, recreational marijuana gives that level of high, which is often required to gain a new perspective or for some out of the box thinking.
  • Attaining a sense of high, a sense of euphoria and joy is often something which is experienced through THC or recreational marijuana.

How Do You Get Medical Marijuana?

  • You need to have a qualifying condition (every state has different medical qualifying conditions) to avail marijuana treatment, with a licensed doctor’s written recommendation and medical marijuana ID card.
  • Visit a regulated and licensed medical marijuana dispensary and produce your recommendation, a copy of which will be made along with other paperwork for the dispensary’s record keeping.
  • You will be required to sign in, followed by waiting in the room, till your turn comes. 
  • You will look at the product menu and displays, before placing the order for your weed, in the desired amount.
  • The staff will help you in completing your transaction, while handing you your medicinal marijuana product.

How Do You Get Recreational Marijuana?

  • Unlike medical marijuana, recreational marijuana requires the consumer to just produce an age verification proof of 21 years through any kind of government issued ID.
  • Approach any recreational marijuana dispensary (in states where it is legal) to purchase your choice of product. You will not need any written recommendation for buying recreational marijuana.
  • Before buying, it should be noted that THC infused products are quite high in concentration (e.g. edibles and concentrates), so seeking bartenders advise is suggested.

Which States Allow Medical Marijuana?

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Delaware
  8. Florida
  9. Hawaii
  10. Illinois
  11. Louisiana
  12. Maine
  13. Maryland
  14. Massachusetts
  15. Michigan
  16. Minnesota
  17. Missouri
  18. Montana
  19. Nevada
  20. New Hampshire
  21. New Jersey
  22. New Mexico
  23. New York
  24. North Dakota
  25. Ohio
  26. Oklahoma
  27. Oregon
  28. Pennsylvania
  29. Rhode Island
  30. Utah
  31. Vermont
  32. Washington, Washington D.C
  33. West Virginia

And District of Columbia

Which States Allow Recreational Marijuana?

  1. Alaska
  2. California
  3. Colorado
  4. Maine
  5. Michigan
  6. Nevada
  7. Oregon
  8. Vermont
  9. Washington
  10. Washington D.C.


Laws governing the medical marijuana usage has been relaxed over the last few years. However, the same cannot be said for recreational marijuana, which still continues to face a lot of struggle. 

Despite the growing rules and regulations, growing awareness about the plant is bringing more demand and, in a few years, it might do good to the marijuana business market as well. Be it chronic pain or any other specific medical issue, marijuana, both medical and recreational can produce beneficial results. Hence, the area of medical marijuana has evolved and with rising consumer demand, looks equally promising. 

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