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July 14, 2020

Medical And Recreational Cannabis: How Are They Different

With the popularity of cannabis rising every day, you may be ready to hop the train just like everyone else. But before filling the prequalification form, did you take time to think that why do you need to sit for consultation with 420 doctors in Chino Hills when you live in a city where recreational cannabis is legal? What difference does it make to get a medical card? Or do you even need one? 

To get answers to these questions, you need to begin by learning about the basic differences between medical and recreational cannabis. 

In the matter of cannabis, the most common conflict mainly arises between medical and recreational cannabis. You may already know the difference between these two categories in terms of their different reasons for use. But that’s not all. There are many dissimilarities like legal issues, product types and most importantly, a recommendation. And for you to decide which category you belong to, learning the differences between the two are important. So let’s take a look at the basic differences between medical and recreational cannabis.

Definitions

Let’s begin the introduction to the differences between medical and recreational cannabis with a proper definition of each category.

Medical cannabis

When people use cannabis for medical reasons, it is referred to as medical cannabis. For medical uses, different chemicals found in a cannabis plant like cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, basically the whole plant is used as a means to alleviate the symptoms of different medical conditions. A patient can use cannabis medically only after a legit medical professional authorizes him/her.

Medical cannabis was legalized in California in 1996 and till today, it has provided medical aid to millions across the globe. People suffering from cancer, AIDS, PTSD, seizures and many other medical conditions find relief after using cannabis as a part of their treatment. 

Recreational cannabis

Non-medical, adult-use or recreational cannabis, is referred to as the use of cannabis for reasons that are not concerned with any medical condition. The main purpose of recreational cannabis is mainly to achieve a ‘high’ or as the name suggests, for recreation. You can use cannabis recreationally without the authorization of a medical professional. 

Recreational cannabis was legalized in California recently in 2016 and ever since then, anyone above the age of 21 is legally allowed to use cannabis in the state. 

Recommendations

The next most important difference between recreational and medical cannabis is the need for recommendations. Let me elaborate. 

If you are suffering from a health condition that can improve with cannabis, you need to go through an evaluation process (420 evaluations) with a state-licensed doctor who will then decide if your condition can benefit from a medical card/recommendation or not. When you receive the card, you are registered with the state government and become a legal medical cannabis consumer. Many people use cannabis for medical reasons but they can say that they use medical cannabis only after they get a recommendation from a medical professional. 

Every state has a list of medical conditions or symptoms that qualify for a medical card. In California, the following conditions are eligible to apply for a medical card.

  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Seizures
  • If your daily major activities are severely affected by your medical condition (Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990).
  • If your medical condition can risk your physical and mental well-being if left untreated.  

For using cannabis recreationally, you don’t need to qualify for any evaluation process or a medical card. As long as you follow the limitations set by the state government, you are free to use recreational cannabis in Chino Hills, California.

A medical card gives you benefits

If cannabis gives you symptomatic relief from your medical condition, you must definitely consider getting a medical card. It is a smart move to make as you open doors to a number of privileges that are exclusive to a medical cardholder. Here’s a brief introduction to a few of them. 

The state government exempts a registered medical cannabis consumer form paying sales and use tax. So with every cannabis purchase, you can save more than 28% with a medical card. You can also possess 8 times more cannabis than recreational consumers. On top of all that you have no fear of being arrested for buying, using or growing cannabis. None of these advantages are applicable to recreational cannabis consumers even in a legal state. 

Legalities

The use of cannabis in California is governed by the medical marijuana program that the state follows. So there are certain rules and regulations that apply to both medical as well as recreational cannabis. 

Some rules are equally applicable to both categories. For example, you are not allowed to drive under the influence of cannabis or consume cannabis in a public space or near a school. You are also advised against flying or crossing borders with cannabis as it makes you susceptible to an arrest according to the federal laws. The federal government hasn’t legalized medical or recreational cannabis unlike the state and so if you are found with cannabis in areas that are under federal jurisdiction, you can face legal penalties. 

There are other limitations that vary between recreational and medical cannabis. For example, the legal age for using recreational cannabis is 21 years whereas for medical use it is 18 years. A registered medical patient may also find leverage in cannabis-related restrictions whereas the same cannot be said about recreational cannabis. 

Effects

As mentioned already, medical cannabis is used to relieve symptoms of a medical condition. So the consumers are aiming for pain relief, anti-inflammatory, sedative, antiemetic or mood regulating effects. Because of the type of effects that are needed for medical cannabis, the products and strains are high in CBD. 

For recreational cannabis, the desired effects of consumers is a strong high or a buzz. This is why cannabis strains and products used by recreational consumers are high in THC. However, there is a potency limit for recreational consumers which does not allow them to buy very high THC strains. But for people with a medical card, this restriction does not apply and they can buy and use high THC strains if recommended by their doctor.

Conclusion

Before starting your cannabis journey it is important to be aware of the most basic details. So now that you have a better idea about the difference between medical and recreational cannabis, you can decide if you need a medical cannabis card or not.

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