Medical Cannabis

Cannabis has been used by the world since ancient times both recreationally and medically. Even today, millions across the globe enjoy medical and recreational cannabis. But this time it is used legally. While it’s good to see that cannabis has gained a positive image among the masses, it is also true that not a lot of people know why medical and recreational cannabis are different. Many have hopped into the bandwagon of cannabis just to be a part of the craze. This ignorance can cause trouble in the future. 

You should be aware of the reason why you need to apply for 420 evaluations in Roseville or if you need to apply for one at all. You should be well aware if you need medical cannabis for your condition or not. And if using cannabis is safe for you. 

So before using cannabis, medically or recreationally, know the basic difference between the two. Understand which category suits you better and will be a sustainable choice. So take out your pen and paper and note down these basic differences between medical and recreational cannabis. 


To understand the differences better, first, you need to know how similar these two categories are. Medical and recreational cannabis have more in common than you can imagine. 

The first obvious commonality is cannabis. Both medical and recreational cannabis use the end product of a cannabis plant. Whichever category you belong to, you are consuming from a lot of the same cannabis buds, strains and products as the other. You are ingesting the same chemical components and indulging in a cannabis experience. Secondly, both medical and recreational cannabis is consumed using one of the many delivery methods. There are dozens of different ways in which cannabis can be consumed. None of these methods are limited to recreational or medical cannabis. So if there are two people smoking a joint, one may be using it recreationally while the other may be using it for medical reasons. You won’t be able to tell the difference. 

Now let’s move on to the factors that determine the difference between medical and recreational cannabis. 

Reasons For Use

The key difference between medical and recreational cannabis lies in the reason for their use. Each category is used to achieve a different end result. Let’s take up this difference one by one. 

Medical cannabis

The name says enough. Medical cannabis is cannabis used for medical reasons. It was first legalized in California in 1996 and has since been decriminalized in 33 states of the US. 

Cannabis is made up of a number of chemicals like cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, antioxidants, fatty acids and the list goes on to up to 400 different components. These chemicals, when ingested, work in the body to deliver an array of therapeutic benefits that provide symptomatic relief for a number of medical conditions. Cannabis is known to deliver anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, sedative, anti-anxiety and many other therapeutic effects. 

Today, thanks to scientific research and anecdotal evidence, there is enough data to show that medical cannabis can be used for medical conditions like cancer, PTSD, chronic pain, anxiety, glaucoma and even mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.  

So if you think that your medical condition can find a solution with cannabis, consult a licensed doctor to have a better idea. 

Recreational cannabis

If you are using cannabis for anything but medical reasons, it will be called recreational cannabis. It is also often referred to as non-medical or adult-use cannabis. It was first legalized in Colorado and Washington in 2012 and has since been legalized in 11 states and Washington D.C. The reason for using recreational cannabis is usually for leisure or to achieve a euphoric high. Recreational cannabis does not involve a doctor, a medical card, a minimum dosage or supervision of any kind. You will be using cannabis at your own discretion but being safe and responsible is still advised. 

420 Evaluations

Another major difference between medical and recreational cannabis is the need for 420 evaluations. 

To be a legit medical cannabis consumer you need to undergo 420 evaluations. It is nothing but a consultation with a state-licensed medical professional who accesses your medical condition and symptoms to determine if you qualify to get a medical card/recommendation or not. If you do qualify, you will be registered with the government and become a legit medical marijuana consumer. 

To qualify for a medical card, your medical condition or symptom should be mentioned in the list of qualifying conditions of the state. Every state has a different list. In California, the following medical conditions are eligible to get a medical cannabis card.

  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Seizures
  • If your major life activities like eating, sleeping, walking etc. are severely affected by your medical condition. (Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990).
  • If your mental and physical well being is put at risk if your medical condition is left untreated. 


For using recreational cannabis, there are no such restrictions. You can use your state-issued identity proof in the dispensary or online stores to make a purchase. However, this is applicable only if your state has legalized recreational cannabis.

State Laws

Every state abides by its marijuana laws which are in accordance with the medical marijuana program they follow. These may or may not be similar in every state. In the case of medical and recreational cannabis, there are certain laws that are similar as well as different for either category. 

Certain rules are equally applicable to both recreational and medical cannabis. For instance, you are not allowed to use cannabis in a public place. Driving under the influence of cannabis is prohibited by law. And buying cannabis for illegal activities like selling it to someone else is punishable by law. 

In terms of restrictions on possession, the legal age for use and homegrown cannabis, the limitations are different for both types. Besides, you need to have a legit recommendation from a licensed doctor to use medical cannabis. 


This one’s a must-read for medical cannabis consumers. The state laws allow certain privileges to medical cannabis in comparison to recreational cannabis. 

For example, the age limit for medical cannabis is 18 years compared to 21 years for recreational cannabis. This allows for the younger patient community to use cannabis legally. Compared to recreational cannabis, the possession limit for medical cannabis is 8 times more. In addition to this, if you have a legit doctor’s recommendation, you can access high potency strains and cannabis products. But for recreational cannabis, there is a potency limit. One of the privileges that is medical cannabis consumers enjoy is money savings. With a medical card, you are not allowed to pay any sales and use tax which saves you more than 28% with every purchase. 

Having gone through the main points of differences, hope you have a better idea now about what is medical and what is recreational cannabis. Using this knowledge, take time to choose which side you want to be on and have a happy cannabis experience.