So you’ve decided to try marijuana as a potential alternative method to combat your pain and discomfort from certain conditions. Regardless of which terminology you use—weed, marijuana, medicinal marijuana, cannabis, or recreational tree, to name a few—it all boils down to two things: it’s either going to be recreational or medicinal. 

But what’s the difference between the two? Is there even a difference at all? Yes, there absolutely is—and many people struggle to comprehend the differences between the two. That’s why Transformative Health has put together some information on deciphering the difference between medical and recreational marijuana. Let’s talk. 

Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

Recreational and medicinal cannabis, though the same substance, vary in legality. Medical marijuana is granted some protections in states that have legalized or decriminalized its use. However, the most noteworthy difference between the two is your reasons and purposes for cannabis use.

Medicinal Cannabis

People who decide to opt for medical marijuana normally do so for its potential therapeutic properties in reference to certain medical conditions. Its potential lack of uncomfortable and worrying side effects may also play a role in deciding to try medical marijuana. In order to purchase medicinal marijuana, you will need a state-issued medical marijuana card or recommendation from a licensed physician. You can then present your card at any state-licensed dispensary in your area or enter the dispensary where your recommendations were sent. 

Recreational Marijuana

When you hear someone talk about recreational marijuana, they are referring to weed that you consume for recreational reasons, not medicinal ones. Simply put: 

  • Medical cannabis is intended for medical patients diagnosed with a qualifying condition who possess a marijuana card. 
  • Recreational cannabis is intended for adults 21 and older and serve as just what it says, personal recreational use to induce a head high. The use of recreational cannabis is legal in 21 states and medical marijuana in 37.

Many Options

A dispensary will have a plethora of options—as far as strains and products—to choose from depending on your individual condition, unlike recreational use marijuana. Oftentimes, medical marijuana cardholders will have access to a larger array of dispensary items due to their medicinal value. This is because those with certain medical conditions may require more potent products and different consumption methods. 

In a Legal Sense

Legally, medical vs. recreational marijuana can differ greatly depending on your state laws. Additionally, it’s equally essential to acknowledge that, federally, marijuana is illegal in all forms except for hemp. However, numerous states have taken steps to legalize cannabis.

One of the most noteworthy differences between medical and recreational marijuana seems to be what amount is considered legal in terms of at-home cultivation and possession limits laws. This is due to states recognizing that medical marijuana patients may need more cannabis than recreational customers due to the severity of their medical condition. 

Which is Best for Me?

The difference between medical and recreational marijuana is too debatable to compare directly. If you use cannabis as a means to potentially help with medical symptoms, you should opt for medical marijuana. On the other hand, if cannabis is something that you enjoy doing in your leisure time to enhance relaxation and euphoria, stick with recreational marijuana if you live in a state where its usage is legal. 


Once you’ve figured out your needs and decided that medical marijuana may be worth a try, or you would like to learn more about medical cannabis or alternative healthcare, schedule your appointment with Transformative Health today. Transformative Health provides a holistic stance on healthcare in a way that relates to your physical, mental, and spiritual health. We can provide you with the answers you need, and we look forward to working with you.