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  • Writer's pictureLizy Maratea

Medical > Recreational

Starting with California in 1996, the use of medical cannabis has been legalized in 39 states, as well as the District of Columbia. Of those 39, 18 states (and D.C.) have further legalized cannabis for recreational/adult-use. I'm of the mind that "recreational use" is very likely still treating something, whether that is understood or not. This is often the case for the curious teen experiencing growing pains, depression, anxiety, and more.

It is evident that cannabis possesses a myriad of medical benefits, and the argument can be made that regardless of intention and irrespective of the mode in which it is consumed, the appreciation for cannabis is significant across partakers. There are a great many differences between the two markets in terms of legislation and experience, and it is in considering these points that one can see which is superior.

There is a common misconception that medical-grade cannabis is of lower THC content - THC being the phytocannabinoid that induces euphoric effects - and therefor of lower quality. There are typically more CBD>THC and 1:1 products available at medical dispensaries than recreational, but that does not at all mean that all of the products are of that variety. While CBD is excellent for afflictions such as those tied to inflammation, it is THC that brings the more immediate pain relief and has its place in Nature's medicine cabinet. There are cultivars with 35%+ THC on the counters of medical dispensaries across the country right now. That being said, higher is not always better. Many find their sweet spot is much lower than chasing THC takes them, and establishing a minimal effective dose is a more sustainable avenue for well-being. Not to mention, having higher CBD options available is often ideal for our most vulnerable of patients, children and the elderly.

Federal legislation means that medical cannabis remains open to taxation per each state's laws; however, several states, including my home state of Maryland, do not charge a sales tax on their medical cannabis. Massachusetts has cannabis as tax exempt only when sold to a "qualified purchaser" with a medical card. The state does charge an excise tax of 10.75% on the projected retail price of recreational cannabis in addition to a 6.25% state sales tax. This is also subject to a local tax of up to 3%. Other states do charge a tax on medical, but it is still lower than that of recreational.

There is also a pretty significant difference between the quality of recreational and medical cannabis. Medical use cannabis is subject to stricter and more controlled processes, tests, and regulations before being made available for consumption than that of the recreational variety. It is monitored closely on issues such as fertilizers, pesticides, molds, toxic metals, harmful fillers, false data, etc. To put it plainly, medical cannabis is held to a higher standard, and it meets a higher standard. On versatility alone medical cannabis sores above recreational options; the latter generally being limited to combustion/inhalation and edibles. Medical cannabis offers modes for all comfort levels, ages, and abilities, with everything from elixirs to bath salts and tinctures to cough drops.

Finally, there is the buying experience. Medical shops respect privacy and only allow a limited number of patients back at a time so they all have space to consider and place their purchases. Some dispensaries - not all by a long shot, unfortunately - require their staff to undergo training before communicating recommendations to patients. Recreational bud tenders on the other hand are restricted from offering anything resembling medical advice. This is for the best, for sure. There are a great deal of people out there who are just really excited to "sell legal weed," and of course many veteran cannabis users and the educated employees working both sides of the field who are able to offer sound insight, but they are still grossly limited on the amount of time they are able to spend with the consumer, limiting the efficacy (and safety) of their advice. It was in my time working for a medical dispensary (the variety that does, thankfully, educate their staff) that I observed this gap that required bridging between doctor and dispensary. 5-10 minutes is simply not enough time to educate an elderly skeptic on the safest handling of their new medication, and a bud tender simply cannot go home with you and teach you what to do. That's where an educated and certified cannabis coach can come in and revolutionize the process for you, saving you time, money, frustration, and discomfort. Book your free Discovery Session with me now, and let's figure out what mode and dosage works best for achieving your desired results.

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