What Is the Difference Between Medical vs Recreational Marijuana?
Many people live in a state that has a medical cannabis program and legalized recreational use. If you have your medical card, you may be wondering whether you should keep it, as recreational requires no registration fee or health check-up. Or adherence to state medical marijuana laws.
If you have not applied for your medical marijuana card, you may also be weighing the advantages of being a registered patient versus purchasing cannabis from a recreational dispensary. There are many reasons why physicians recommend medical marijuana to patients who have medical conditions.
What Is Medical Marijuana?
People who have qualifying health conditions or symptoms can be approved for medical use. There are active chemicals in cannabis that can help with certain medical conditions, including chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, adverse effects of cancer chemotherapy, Crohn’s disease, lateral sclerosis, spasticity, and more.
The most common use of medical cannabis is to treat pain. Other patients who are experiencing weight loss, nausea or vomiting caused by cancer treatments, and wasting syndrome may also use cannabis to help stimulate appetite, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Federal law maintains cannabis as a Schedule 1 prohibited substance but allows states to decide and implement medical cannabis programs. Nearly every state in America now has a medical marijuana program for patients.
The Main Differences Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana
There are very few differences between recreational and medical marijuana in terms of the products you can purchase. But medical cannabis dispensaries will carry strains that can help relieve symptoms. Recreational dispensaries do not offer patient counseling or suggestions for medical purposes.
The main differences between medical marijuana and recreational dispensaries are:
Cannabidiol (CBD) Content
Medical weed usually contains a higher CBD content than recreational. Cannabidiol can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is a precursor to many chronic disease symptoms, including pain, edema, glaucoma, and other conditions.
Possibly Higher Potency
Recreational weed typically contains a higher THC content than medical. This means people usually take this variety more for the “high” effect than the benefits. Concentrated cannabis products are available in most medical dispensaries as well.
Patients can get a medical marijuana card when they are eighteen (18) years of age or older if they have an approved medical condition. In states that have legalized recreational dispensaries, you must be twenty-one (21) or older to purchase cannabis.
Different Ratios for Terpenes and Minor Cannabinoids
There are beneficial cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant other than THC and CBD. If you are using cannabis for medical reasons, you will want to learn more about secondary cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and others. Terpene content and minor cannabinoid ratios are a priority for medical marijuana products and less so for recreational cannabis.
Less Tax Paid on Products
Products from recreational dispensaries are heavily taxed. Patients with a marijuana card, however, pay less tax on medical marijuana. State legislatures have made sure that patients who purchase cannabis products save money and regularly consult with a physician to monitor symptoms. The higher taxes paid on recreational products are also intended to reduce drug abuse and encourage responsible, safe use.
What to Expect at a Licensed Medical Dispensary
After you get your recommendation, you’ll then want to visit the medical cannabis dispensary. There are a few differences between a recreational and medical marijuana dispensary beyond decor. You are more likely to see flamboyant. Shops specializing in recreational weed and medical dispensaries feel (and look) more like a healthcare environment.
Registration and Patient Records
If you have just received your medical card and are visiting a dispensary for the first time in your state, call to see if you can make an appointment. For retail, medical dispensaries, you’ll need time to set up your profile and ask questions about different intake methods, products, and strains that may help with symptoms of your qualifying conditions.
Medical dispensaries are required to ask for government-issued photo identification and your cannabis card, according to state laws. If your marijuana card is expired or lost, you cannot purchase medical marijuana products at the dispensary.
What Are the Disadvantages of Recreational Use for Patients?
Recreational cannabis is more expensive and taxed heavily. Most patients find that having a marijuana card saves them hundreds of dollars annually. But the main disadvantage to recreational use is the lack of guidance and knowledge that cannabis physicians provide.
Health conditions and symptoms can change very quickly. Having a qualified physician who can provide expert advice, and help you monitor your symptoms, can help you reach your wellness goals. And watch for any medication conflicts or side effects that may harm your health.
Make DocMJ Your Medical Cannabis Healthcare Provider
The potential benefits of medical vs. recreational marijuana are clear; patients can get more help and better results when working with a physician. And there are many legal protections for patients with a medical card, including reciprocity with other states when you travel. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and find out if you may be approved for medical marijuana use with DocMJ.
Dr. Glider is a board certified Internal Medicine Specialist. He received his Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians Certification in 2017 and was one of the first recommending physicians with DocMJ. In addition to medical marijuana recommendations, Dr. Glider continues to practice Internal and Geriatric Medicine in private practice. Additionally, he serves as Medical Director for a home health company, supervising and educating staff, as well as supervising an advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners for a transitional care program.
Dr. Glider graduated from the College of Osteopathic Medicine & Surgery in Des Moines, IA and completed his residency at Saddlebrook General Hospital in Saddlebrook, NJ. He has received several honors and awards throughout his professional career, including a City of Des Moines Merit Award and a Chamber of Commerce Award (Port St. Lucie, FL). Dr. Glider is an experienced and caring physician who is loved and respected by his peers and his patients.