Medical marijuana has gained in popularity and is receiving a lot of attention in recent years as more states continue to legalize cannabis use for medicinal purposes.  Several states are also legalizing recreational use of marijuana along with legalized medical use at a fast pace.  Here is a map of all states with the most recent legislation showing 38 states with legal medical cannabis use and 19 states plus the District of Columbia with legalized recreational cannabis use.

As Americans across the U.S. are becoming more aware and are legally allowed to enjoy the benefits of this medicinal plant, more people are wondering if there is a difference between medical and recreational cannabis. There are some notable differences in growing requirements and concentrations of the main chemicals of the plant that consumers and patients should be aware of.

The Differences between Medical Cannabis and Recreational Marijuana recreational cannabis

The marijuana plant contains over 100 chemicals which are known as cannabinoids with each having different benefits and effects on the human body. The two main cannabinoids are Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and Cannabidiol or CBD. THC is the element that produces a high with psychoactive compounds, while CBD does not provide any psychoactive effects but has been shown to have significant health benefits for many conditions.

Because of the different effects of the two main compounds in cannabis, many state governments have legalized the growth, distribution and sale of cannabis with low THC and high CBD content for medical use.

Medical Use Cannabis vs. Recreational Cannabis Cultivation

Every state has various regulations regarding the legalization of growing cannabis for medical use.  Some states allow patients to grow their own while other states require patients to purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary.

The main difference between medical and recreational cannabis is how the plant is cultivated and produced. Regulations for medical marijuana are far more stringent than those for recreational production of cannabis. In many states, recreational cannabis can be cultivated either indoors or outdoors, whereas commercial medical cannabis cultivators must produce cannabis indoors and free from pesticides.

There are more stringent regulations on the cultivation and production of medical marijuana as patients ranging from children to the elderly are relying on the health benefits it provides. Legalities in place ensure clean and safe production with close monitoring in a controlled environment.

Medical marijuana is prescribed by a physician in states where legalized and can be used to treat a host of conditions including:Medical Cannabis

  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • Chron’s disease
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia
  • Appetite loss due to various diseases including cancer
  • Pain relief
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Nausea
  • Glaucoma
  • Various mental health conditions

Each state varies in the conditions and diseases that are allowed for prescription of medical marijuana. Always check the conditions that are allowed for legal use of medical marijuana in your state.

Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana Chemical Compound Content

In general, medical marijuana will have a higher CBD content than recreational cannabis. CBD provides most of the health benefits for patients including pain relief, relaxation and an increase in appetite, although some patients benefit from a THC content as well which some feel sort of “smooths out” the effects of CBD for a longer and more effective health benefit.

Recreational marijuana may have a higher content of THC as most recreational users want to experience the high that comes from that chemical compound. A higher content of THC vs. CBD has different effects on the body and the brain, such as changes in concentration, perception, and short-term memory impairment.

For the most part, it can be said that medical marijuana is the safer and purer of the two although with widespread legalization and cultivation, in many cases there is no difference. Recreational users can enjoy the same high-quality cannabis that medical patients can, although it is important that medical patients follow their prescription to effectively treat the disorder for which their medical cannabis is prescribed.

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