Medical vs Recreational Cannabis

Posted: March 20, 2017

Guest Post by Kristi Etter

_MG_3255One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a Cannabis Advisor for Lucy Sky Cannabis Boutique is “What is the difference between medical and recreational marijuana?” This is a question that I love to answer because it’s never the answer people expect. In fact, some people will argue that all cannabis use is medicinal in some way. I’ve smoked “recreationally” for the better part of my life, but since I’ve been in the legal marijuana industry, I have personally observed the difference.

First, and foremost, there is absolutely no difference between recreational and medical marijuana plants. None. The plants themselves are exactly the same… they are grown by the same people, with the same nutrients, at the same cultivation facility. Of course, there are a few strains that have been crossbred for their specific traits. Most famously Charlotte’s Web, which was crossed for a high CBD content and low THC, specifically to treat seizures for a little girl named Charlotte. Medical plants are not more potent, they don’t have any special ingredients, and they aren’t grown somewhere special.

The differences fall in the products and regulations surrounding them… pricing, taxes, and dosing.

Medical Recreational
Pricing (100 mg edible example) $7-11 $15-25
Taxes 4-8% (varies by city) 18-26% (varies by city)
Dosing (Edible Products) Unlimited 10mg doses, 100 mg per pkg
Quantity 2 ounces per day* 1 ounce per day

*A two ounce limit is typical, however some patients have extended plant counts and higher daily limits.

Since our shop is both medical and recreational, I also observe the differences between patients (medical) and customers (recreational), as well as the shopping process. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that most medical patients know exactly what they are after. Most have been in the program long enough to know what strains and what products work for them. Recreational customers, on the other hand, may not know what they are after, it may be their first experience in a legal dispensary. Many times our recreational customers are experimenting before they go invest in a medical card, so they need guidance and suggestions.

Although we’ve both smoked marijuana recreationally since we were teenagers, there’s a big difference from going to a dealer on the black market and getting whatever he has on hand and shopping in the legal cannabis industry. In fact, for those new to the legal market, it can be overwhelming. Think of the first time you walked into a winery… there are so many choices… red wines, white wines, sparkling wines, moscatos, rose wines, blends, winter grapes, summer grapes… the list is endless. The same holds true in cannabis… you have sativas, indicas, hybrids, candies, drinks, teas, vaporizers, oils, tinctures, capsules, lotions and topicals… there are literally hundreds of products choose from.

As a consumer, I have also noticed the difference in how we use cannabis products medicinally verses recreationally. When we use cannabis to medicate, we are very specific. We control our dosing, we control our strains… for example, if I want to control anxiety… I am not going to use a sativa-based product. Sativas can amplify anxiety and cause paranoia. I use indica-based cannabis concentrates to control my anxiety each morning. When I was in Minnesota, my day started with anti-depressants and then continued with anti-anxiety medications throughout the day. Some days even with all those prescriptions I wouldn’t want to get out of bed. Today, I wake up before my alarm, rested, and ready for the day… my sleep patterns have never been better. I take two doses of an indica shatter and my anxiety is gone all day.  I’m not high, I’m functional, I’m clear headed… there are no side effects, there is no crash. Gary learned before he got his medical card, that THC-infused edibles really curb his pain and his preferred brand is “Mountain Medicine” baked products. A single bite of a bar in the morning (about 40-50mg of THC) starts his day pain-free, rather than with the plethora of pills the doctors would have him take each day.

However, after attending the Willie Nelson concert at Fiddler’s Green Saturday night, I realized that our habits are very different when we are using cannabis recreationally. The goal is completely different. Yes… we still smoke marijuana to get high and have fun, too; before all the judgmental gasps… would it be more socially acceptable if I had said “drunk” instead of “high”… because alcohol is legal in all 50 states, has no medicinal benefits, and people have been using it to get “high” and have fun for years, so save the judgments. When we smoke to get high… strain is irrelevant. There were so many joints being passed around at the Willie Nelson concert, there’s no way you could be picky about strain, but everyone’s goal was the same… to relax, have some fun, and watch a living legend perform an amazing show.

In summary, the biggest difference in medicinal and recreational marijuana is really only the end goal. Sure there are technical differences in dosing, prices, and taxes, but as far as the products and using them, whether you’re looking to loosen up and have fun before watching a concert or going to a movie… or you’re looking to relieve chronic pain… or if you are just looking for a good night’s sleep… we are all benefiting from same garden.


Original post can be viewed here.