Medical Marijuana vs Recreational – Breakdown and Differences

In the United States, 19 states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana, while 36 states feature some type of medical marijuana program going on. Marijuana use has gone up recently all over the world, and studies show that cannabis has multiple medical benefits.

Lots of people consume both recreational and medical marijuana, but there are various differences between both types. In this blog, we will discuss recreational marijuana vs medical marijuana in terms of various aspects.

Let’s know more about the two types first to better understand the difference between medical and recreational weed.

What is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana can only be sold to patients that have a medical cannabis card issued by a certified state facility. A person has to consult a state-certified doctor that evaluates his condition and qualifies him to get a medical marijuana card.

Different states have different rules regarding medical marijuana, and a person has to get qualified before he can purchase medical cannabis.

What is Recreational Marijuana?

Recreational or adult-use marijuana can be bought by people above 21 years of age in states that have legalized its use. Marijuana products are available in licensed dispensaries, and people can buy it like alcohol without any doctor’s prescription. Some consumers also call it non-medical marijuana.

recreational marijuana

Medical Marijuana vs Recreational – Breakdown:

Apart from the purpose, there are several other weed differences when it comes to medical vs recreational marijuana.

Age Limit

Medical cannabis has many medical benefits, which makes it versatile. Due to its high CBD and low THC content, it can be used by both children and adults for medicinal purposes.

Recreational cannabis can only be bought by people above 21 years of age and only in states that have legalized it. It is used for personal satisfaction and social gatherings, but it is limited to a certain age group.

Quality Measure

Although both marijuana types follow the same growing process, there is some difference in the cultivation and production. Medical cannabis undergoes strict, controlled processes in an indoor environment, while recreational cannabis is also grown outdoors.

As medical marijuana is consumed by patients, it is closely checked for pesticide use and other issues. People who consume recreational marijuana also demand a safe product, but medical marijuana is safer and purer compared to its recreational counterpart.

Currently, in the United States, 36 states have legalized medical marijuana, while only 18 states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Even lower than 18 states have licensed and operational adult-use dispensaries.

Based on the public image of cannabis and current laws, medical cannabis is expected to be more accessible as compared to recreational marijuana in the near future.


Taxation on marijuana varies from one state to the other. While medical cannabis is taxed at the minimum level, recreational cannabis is taxed at around 25-35%, just like tobacco and alcohol.

For example, in Arizona, medical marijuana consumers have to pay just local and state taxes, but recreational marijuana users have to pay a 16% excise tax apart from the local and state tax.

Purchasing Differences

To buy medical marijuana, patients must have a medical cannabis card and a valid personal ID. This is done to verify that a patient is approved to purchase marijuana from a medical dispensary. Recreational cannabis stores cannot give medical advice to customers, but patients can purchase from these stores.

Some dual-licensed shops can sell both recreational as well as medical marijuana and can respond ideally to medical questions and emergencies.

THC and CBD Levels

One of the main differences between medical and recreational marijuana is the CBD and THC content in them. Recreational cannabis has more THC than CBD and gets users high. THC has medicinal use, but its psychoactive effects are not recommended for users looking for health benefits.

Medical marijuana has a higher CBD content that shows anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-oxidant properties in users.

Potency Restrictions

Different states have different potency restrictions on medical and recreational marijuana. In some states, patients are allowed to purchase cannabis products with high THC concentrations to cure chronic health symptoms.

For recreational cannabis use, users are limited to a certain concentration. Usually, they can consume around 10 mg THC per single serving and around 100 mg per pack.


If a patient lives more than 25 miles away from the closest dispensary, he is allowed to grow cannabis plants at home. On the other hand, people above 21 years old can grow recreational marijuana at home. However, there is a limit of six plants per residence and 12 plants per residence if two or more people stay there.

Is Medical Marijuana Stronger Than Recreational Marijuana?

Medical and recreational marijuana have many similarities and do not have a major quality difference. Medical cannabis undergoes strict cultivation and safety protocols and is safer than recreational cannabis.

medical vs recreational marijuana

However, both of them come from the same plant, and the difference is between the level of THC and CBD content. Medical marijuana has high CBD, ideal for health benefits, while recreational cannabis has higher THC making it perfect for enjoyment and getting high.


With more and more people using cannabis now, it can be hard to keep track of state and national laws. Some states allow only medicinal marijuana use, while some of them have legalized the use of recreational cannabis for adults.

In the above blog, we read about both types and checked out the difference between medicinal and recreational weed. Based on your purpose and health status, you can make a choice between using recreational or medical marijuana.

FAQ: Marijuana vs Recreational

Is medical marijuana legal in all states?

Answer: No, medical marijuana is not legal in all states. While some states have legalized medical marijuana, others have not. It is important to research the laws in your state to determine whether or not medical marijuana is legal.

What are the differences between medical and recreational marijuana?

Answer: There are several differences between medical and recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is used to treat specific medical conditions, such as chronic pain, nausea, and other types of health issues. Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, is used for recreational purposes and does not have any proven medical benefits. Additionally, there are different regulations and laws in place for medical and recreational marijuana in many states.

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Rajita Gupta

With over 15 years of experience in the cannabis sector, Rajita has a uniquely wry voice that shines through in her content. She is a passionate advocate for the use of marijuana and other holistic approaches to health care. She is dedicated to offering relevant information on cannabis while ensuring a compassionate and professional experience.

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