There are numerous illnesses that can be helped by medical marijuana, and if you are thinking about embarking on that type of treatment, you may be wondering about the differences between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. Here's what you need to know.
1. Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana Can Be the Same Product
In many cases, medical and recreational marijuana are exactly the same thing. For example, in Colorado where both are legal, dispensaries often sell marijuana from the exact same plant in both the recreational and medical sides of their stores. The main difference is the intent of how the product is used—namely, medical marijuana is used to treat ailments ranging from depression to epilepsy, and recreational marijuana is used for fun and relaxation.
2. Medical Marijuana Growers Often Try to Cultivate High Levels of CBD
Although both types of marijuana can be the same, in many cases, they are different. When growing medical marijuana, growers typically try to cultivate strains that are high in CBD (cannabidiol), while growers of recreational product often try to focus on obtaining higher levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
THC is the cannabinoid that makes marijuana psychoactive, while CBD is the cannabinoid that creates therapeutic effects. A strain high in CBD and low in THC helps with health issues without getting the patient "high." One of the most famous examples of a strain that meets this criteria is Charlotte's Web. Developed in Colorado, this strain was named for a young girl with epilepsy. After she began using the strain, she went from having about 40 seizures a day to about three per month.
Of course, if recreational users prefer the feeling of a strain with high CBD and low THC, they could certainly smoke that.
3. Medical Marijuana Is More Widely Available Than Recreational
Throughout the United States, there are 29 states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. All of these states have different rules on how doctors can prescribe the treatment, what conditions it can be used for, and how you obtain it. It's important to check the rules in your state if you are interested in this type of treatment.
In contrast, recreational marijuana is legal in eight states, plus the District of Columbia. These states also have different ways of selling recreational marijuana, and the process is still evolving in many areas.
4. Medical Marijuana Has Different Age Limits
As indicated above, medical marijuana is sometimes even given to children, but their parents or guardians have to handle the medicine just as they do most other types of prescription medications. Once patients turn 18, they can buy medical marijuana on their own. In contrast, the minimum age to buy recreational marijuana typically matches the minimum age to buy alcohol, which is 21.
5. Medical and Recreational Marijuana Are Usually Taxed Differently
In states that have both medical and recreational marijuana, the products are generally taxes differently. For example, in Colorado, a sales tax of 2.9% is applied to medical marijuana. However, a 15% tax is applied to recreational marijuana.
As a result, if you need marijuana for health reasons, you may want to buy medical marijuana rather than recreational marijuana, even if you live in a state that has both for sale. That can help you save money in the long run.
Unfortunately, if you claim a tax deduction for medical expenses, you cannot include the cost of your medical marijuana on your tax return. It is not tax deductible, as it is still illegal under federal law. However, if you move to Canada, you can write off your medical marijuana expenses along with your other qualifying medical expenses on your tax return.
To learn more about medical marijuana, its benefits, how to obtain it, and the differences between medical and recreational marijuana, contact an expert.