Medical Cannabis Patients vs. Recreational Customers

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From ancient civilizations, the use of cannabis has grown tremendously in recent years, becoming popular among young and adults. With time, Cannabis has also become a source of relief against serious health conditions, it is an alternative form of medication. But as many researchers would say: not all cannabis serves equal purposes. In fact, although they derive from the same plant source, recreational and medical Cannabis present very distinctive features and thus can be used for different purposes.

What Is “Regular” Cannabis?

Cannabis is considered “regular” when it is used for recreational purposes. Compared to medical Cannabis, recreational cannabis is aimed at specific medical conditions, and it does not need a medical justification. However, state laws may limit the possession quantity or the age required to buy it. The strains of recreational Cannabis contain high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which produces the common psychoactive effects associated with the plant.

One of the issues with recreational cannabis is that it is poorly regulated, as more attention is given to medical Cannabis. Therefore, some producers do not run the necessary lab tests or do not obtain the required lab verification, thus compromising the purity of the product and its effects. Despite the lack of strict regulation, recreational Cannabis can be unpredictable and problematic for a person’s health, so it should always be used with care and total awareness.

Recreational Cannabis

Recreational cannabis was first legalized in 2012 by only two states, Colorado and Washington. As of June 2021, possessing and using Cannabis for recreational purposes is legal in 18 states plus Washington, D.C.

Medical Cannabis

In 1996 medical Cannabis became legal in the United States, specifically in the state of California. As of May 2021, medical Cannabis is legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C. in Idaho, only one specific brand of CBD is legal and FDA-approved – Epidiolex.

What Is Medical Cannabis?

Recent studies have discovered that Cannabis can be highly beneficial for patients suffering from certain health conditions. This opened up the possibility of turning to cannabis-based products as an alternative medical treatment.

What distinguishes medical Cannabis vs. recreational is the content of its strains. Medical dispensaries typically sell Cannabis containing more cannabidiol (CBD). CBD strains do not induce psychoactive effects, which are typically associated with recreational cannabis. The purpose of medical Cannabis is to treat certain diseases or conditions rather than simply to make the patient “high.”

How Is Recreational Cannabis Different?

One of the essential characteristics of recreational Cannabis is the level of THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis. THC creates the “high” effect that is common among recreational cannabis, bringing a more profound sense of enjoyment than medical Cannabis.

If you are more than 21 and live in a state where recreational Cannabis is legal, you can obtain it easily at a dispensary by simply showing your driver’s license. You can also grow Cannabis yourself in these states – assuming your age meets the requirements. Despite the numerous benefits, it is important to remember that recreational Cannabis may lead to unexpected health risks or turn into a cannabis use disorder. Therefore it should be taken moderately.

Medical Cannabis: Recommendation Required

Medical Cannabis can only be obtained upon providing proof of an existing medical condition. Furthermore, your condition must qualify for drug usage. For instance, Florida’s state law allows the issuance of medical recommendations only if patients suffer from certain conditions such as ALS, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Glaucoma, MS, or Parkinson’s.

Note that doctors are not allowed to “prescribe” Cannabis because it is illegal on a federal level. Instead, they can “recommend” it for certain qualifying conditions. Most Cannabis recommendations are not made by the patient’s usual physician but by doctors who specialize in evaluating patients for medical Cannabis . After obtaining their recommendation, patients can visit a medical cannabis dispensary and show their Cannabis I.D. card to buy a product they need.

Recreational Cannabis: No Recommendation Required

A person does not need a recommendation for recreational Cannabis – they can simply enter a dispensary and buy the product, as long as it is legal in that state and they are over the required minimum age. Only licensed recreational stores can make medical recommendations, though most adult-use cannabis dispensaries are not allowed to do so.

Another significant contrast between medical Cannabis vs. recreational is that the latter does not require a medical card. In states like California and Colorado, recreational users only need to show a valid photo I.D. to obtain the product directly from the dispensary. Those aged 21 years or more can purchase recreational Cannabis in various forms, from flowers to edibles to concentrates such as shatter, vape cartridges, or tinctures.

Medical vs. Recreational: Age limitations

Another differentiating aspect of medical Cannabis vs. recreational relates to the users’ age. For instance, medical cannabis cannot be bought and used by customers below 18 years of age. The rules are different for recreational users, who cannot purchase Cannabis until they reach 21 and above.

At first, the different age limit between the two categories leads to the conclusion that medical patients have an advantage over recreational users since they can access Cannabis at a younger age. However, there is a much deeper reason why one must be above 21 years to use recreational cannabis. This age restriction has been set based on brain science since the human brain grows and develops until the mid-20s. Ample research has shown that the THC contained in regular Cannabis can seriously impact a person’s cognitive function and increase the risk of drug abuse and addiction. Setting the limit to 21 years and above minimizes the risk that people come in contact with recreational cannabis at a young age.

Medical vs. Recreational: Purchase And Possession Limits

Aside from the age limit, Cannabis is highly regulated in the quantity that can be purchased and possessed. Each state sets up specific rules on how much cannabis one can buy at one time and the total weight that a person can possess. The main reason for such limits is to minimize the risk of drug abuse or product diversion into the illicit market. It is also a way to ensure all customers do not own more than the state-specified amount of Cannabis products, which may result in heavy fines.

Cannabis Dispensary in West Hollywood
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