Medical marijuana has gained popularity over time, with the increase in doctors’ recommendations, legalized access, and licensed dispensaries. Today, more people are wondering about the differences between medical and recreational marijuana – if it is really safe, regulated, or beneficial for use.
Marijuana is often referred to as cannabis or weed and is produced from the hemp plant, one of the many strains of the Cannabis plant species. The plant itself will produce over 400 different chemical compounds throughout its life span. The cannabis plant was mainly used for industrial purposes to make fibers, like ropes and sails for use, back in the 1700s. Other uses include textiles, clothing, insulation, and biofuel.
The marijuana plant itself contains 113 chemical compounds that scientists call cannabinoids. Cannabinoids have different effects and benefits on the human body. Typically, the two main cannabinoids in marijuana use are THC and CBD – Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and Cannabidiol or CBD. THC is the psychoactive element in marijuana that produces the “high” while CBD does not.
In fact, THC is unique among the rest of the cannabinoids due to it being the most potently psychoactive compound, thus producing a range of mostly pleasurable effects on the human body. However, marijuana used for medical purposes actually has lower THC content and high CBD content instead, so patients are unable to feel a similar level of euphoria as they would with regular recreational marijuana.
It has been found that CBD from the marijuana plant provides an excellent medical remedy for various conditions and disorders. With that, some governments have allowed and legalized the hemp plant to be grown with low THC content for use by marijuana patients vs. recreational marijuana users.
Recreational cannabis has mental and physical effects on the body, the most common being the “high” or euphoria. Other effects include changes in perception and concentration, impaired short-term memory, altered sense of time, increased relaxation, impaired bodily movements, and even an increase in appetite. This is due to the high THC content – the active ingredient in recreational cannabis.
Although THC has medical benefits as well, the psychoactive element is not ideal for medical patients who are looking to use marijuana to exclusively address their health condition. So marijuana with low THC to CBD ratio is commonly used for recreational purposes only.
Recreational and medical cannabis: difference in quality
The quality between medical and recreational marijuana is worth noting. Mainly the difference lies in how the hemp plant is cultivated and produced. Recreational marijuana can be grown either indoors or outdoors in the states which allow it, while regulations for medical marijuana are far more stringent – this is one of the main differences between recreational and medical marijuana production.
With all rights reserved, the legal production process to grow medical marijuana is stricter and requires more care since it will be consumed by patients ranging from children to elderly, with health conditions diagnosed by a licensed doctor. There are legalities in place to ensure safe and clean production such as bans on pesticide use and close monitoring of the plant while it is grown in a controlled indoor environment.
Protocols must be observed throughout production before medical marijuana is distributed to the medical dispensaries. In the end, it can be said that medical marijuana is the purer and safer end product.
Recreational and medical cannabis: effects on the human body
Recreational cannabis is often preferred by people who are after some type of social enjoyment or simply for their own personal satisfaction. Usually, it is acquired by a specific age group only – that which are legally allowed to get high without getting distressed. There is a legal age limit imposed on recreational users in the countries and states which allow its use. Meanwhile, medical cannabis is allowed across a wider age group and even those with conditions or disabilities, making it accessible to more people.
Medical marijuana has gained a lot of attention in recent years, growing in popularity. This is due to legal changes, improved accessibility, and availability, and more studies being conducted to research on its medical purposes. People are often confused about the effects of medical vs recreational marijuana on the body.
While scientific studies have been continuously ongoing, it is still inadequate due to production and governmental restrictions across states and countries. However, there are enough initial studies which have been helpful to get a picture of how medical marijuana is beneficial for a variety of purposes.
These include how it reduces nausea of chemotherapy patients, improves the appetite of HIV/AIDS positive patients, reduces chronic pain and muscle spasms, and even treating various forms of epilepsy. Note that these medicinal benefits in medical marijuana are due to the CBD component, and not the high THC content which is found in recreational marijuana.
The effects of cannabis on medical marijuana patients may also differ, varying on their condition, overall health, age, and other circumstances. The CBD levels, method of consumption, as well as particular cannabis strain (with a recommendation from a doctor) are factors that should be taken into account upon the use of medical marijuana. Take note that these should only be observed in states with legalized cannabis use and a registered dispensary or company for distribution. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states in America.
Recreational and medical cannabis: legalities
There is a difference between medical and recreational cannabis across federal laws, states, and countries. Serious fines and/or jail time awaits users or those who are found in possession of recreational cannabis. It is not accessible to people who wish to find recreational marijuana in countries where the use of cannabis is not legal at all. It is best for one to really travel to a state where cannabis use is legal, this ensures higher chances of availability and access to cannabis.
Shopping for medical marijuana is different from recreational marijuana. Generally, one needs to be above 21 years old and with a valid identification card (ID) on hand in order to buy recreational weed. The products of cannabis also vary in form across states. For example, there are recreational cannabis edibles available in shops in California, but none in the state of Hawaii.
Meanwhile, to buy medical marijuana the laws are different. Medical marijuana dispensaries require a Medical Marijuana Card which the patient can acquire, under the listed medical conditions by the Department of Health Services in that state. Only physicians with a medical cannabis license are allowed to approve Medical Marijuana Cards. This assures the staff at the medical dispensaries regarding the purchase of cannabis and that the patient will be using it to treat a health condition.
In Hawaii, these conditions include cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, lupus, AIDS/HIV, epilepsy or seizure disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others. First, patients need to acquire a Valid 329 or a Medical Cannabis Card.
There is an important difference between medical and recreational marijuana access because the patient’s medical marijuana card (and prescription, if any) will shield them from prosecution in their respective state.
Be sure to check out our list of states with legal recreational marijuana.
Summary of differences between medical and recreational cannabis: which is better?
Overall, there are many differences between medical and recreational marijuana – which should be considered before one can decide what they would need or want. Note that before acquiring either product, one must be of legal age, with a valid government-issued ID, and in a place with legalized access to marijuana.