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Medicinal vs. Recreational Cannabis: What’s the Difference?

Marijuana laws are constantly shifting. Each year that cannabis remains federally illegal, new propositions are placed on state ballots, offering a glimmer of hope to stoners everywhere. 


With that being said, cannabis laws throughout the United States are largely inconsistent. While cannabis is recreationally illegal in Florida and requires a medical card, the same bud is entirely legal in California and simply requires a state-issued ID that proves you are 21 years of age or older. But is there a difference in the actual product?


In this blog, we’ll explore the differences between medical and recreational cannabis. We’ll breeze through more well-known topics such as legal status and the general purchasing process before we dive into a discussion surrounding the actual product differences and even touch on personal cultivation rules. So if you’ve ever sat around and pondered whether or not medical and recreational cannabis is the same, comparable, or entirely different, you’ve come to the right place.


Let’s get started!


Legal Status of Cannabis


As mentioned, cannabis laws continue to change as more states support 420-friendly lifestyles. 2020-2022 saw a major spike in recreational cannabis legalization; however, some states remain behind on the trend. Whether you have upcoming travel plans or you’re just curious about the current legal status in the world of weed, we encourage you to regularly check in with resources such as MJ Biz Daily for the latest scoop. Check out their map below for a quick glance at each state’s legal status:



Legal status of Medicinal vs. Recreational Cannabis across the United States
Image: https://mjbizdaily.com/map-of-us-marijuana-legalization-by-state/


How to Purchase Cannabis


In legal states such as California, purchasing cannabis is a straightforward process. Consumers either visit their local dispensary or order weed delivery — from hyperwolf.com, of course. In order to do so, one simply needs to be 21+ with a state-issued identification card. Nonetheless, legal consumers are still required to follow certain rules surrounding the amount of cannabis that a consumer can purchase at a single time. For an updated list of cannabis retail regulations by state, including California, check out Blaze’s Retail Purchase Limits for Medical and Recreational Cannabis by State


However, the purchase process isn’t so simple in states that are only medically legal. 


How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card


In states such as Utah, Florida, Ohio, or any of the states highlighted in green, a medical marijuana card is required to legally purchase cannabis. Obtaining a medical marijuana card typically requires certain actions such as completing an application, undergoing an interview with a medical provider, proving residency, and submitting an application fee. To learn how to get a medical marijuana card in any state, simply search the specific state’s government website for information. For example, the Utah Department of Health and Services outlines the process on their frequently asked questions page


Despite its legal status, some California residents still choose to keep a medical marijuana card on hand. Doing so allows one to potentially purchase cannabis products with a higher THC percentage, buy and possess more cannabis at any given time (if recommended by a physician), and even grow a greater number of plants at home if determined medically necessary. 


In order to qualify, one must have a specific medical condition that a physician deems would benefit from medical marijuana, and the patient must complete a full application and adhere to any requirements. For a full list of benefits, requirements, eligibility, and even a direct link to the application form, check out the California Department of Cannabis Control website


Product Differences Between Medicinal vs. Recreational Cannabis


Medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are two separate categories in cannabis. But are the actual products much different? First, let’s explore what medical marijuana and recreational marijuana actually is. 


What is Medical Marijuana?


Cannabis has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions for centuries. In today’s modern age, the FDA does not regulate the vast majority of cannabis products as with other drugs; however, cannabis is still considered a viable option for those looking to treat medical conditions in a more natural and holistic way. Many Americans throughout the country use cannabis to treat conditions such as chronic pain, anorexia, epilepsy, nausea as a result of chemotherapy, etc.


What is Recreational Marijuana?


Any cannabis sold under the blanket of recreational marijuana refers to products that can be legally purchased by consumers 21 or over for personal use aside from medical reasons. Due to the THC content, recreational marijuana is often used to achieve a psychoactive ‘high’ that leaves consumers feeling anything from light and euphoric to heavy and sedated. 


Though there is no notable quality difference between recreational and medical cannabis, the main differences lie in how they are sold. Medical marijuana patients can often purchase more cannabis at any given time and are taxed less because medical marijuana is typically not subject to a state’s hefty cannabis tax


Cultivation Rules


And finally, we’ve reached cannabis cultivation rules. According to the California Department of Cannabis Control, you are legally allowed to grow your own cannabis plant right in your backyard — under specific circumstances, of course. If you are 21 years of age or older, you are legally allowed to grow up to 6 cannabis plants. Keep in the mind that these rules specifically apply to regular consumers who are 21+ and do not possess any cannabis cultivation or distribution licenses. 


However, if you turn the buds into an actual product, you cannot use solvents such as butane or propane. And if you choose to sell your cannabis products, you will need to obtain a seller’s permit, a cultivation license for large-scale growing operations, and you must adhere to local and state laws regarding the safe cultivation of adult-use cannabis. 


So can you grow at home? The answer is yes, but the above stipulations must be taken into account. 


Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana: Key Takeaways


So there you have it: The difference between medical and recreational marijuana largely lies in how it is sold. Potency, quality, and availability is typically the same between the two categories. In other words, medical and recreational marijuana are two different legal categories of the same substance, which requires different laws and tax percentages.

Oh, and if you happen to live in Southern California and can take full advantage of the legal cannabis scene, be sure to hit up hyperwolf.com for recreational cannabis delivered directly to your doorstep in 60 minutes or less.