Recreational Cannabis vs. Medical Marijuana: Understand the Differences

The way cannabis is categorized in the United States can be an area of great confusion. Laws are a bit complicated and constantly changing, but with our easy to follow guide, you’ll be a marijuana expert before you know it!

Federal vs. State: It’s All In the Laws:

Did you know that marijuana is technically illegal throughout the entire US on a federal level? The American Federal Government doesn’t recognize cannabis as medical or recreational.

However, this law is trumped by state per state regulations, which have their own sets of laws. This is why the legality of ganja has become a legal grey area in much of America, becoming a topic of great debate.

Currently, twenty-five states plus the District of Columbia recognize cannabis as medically legal, with proper paperwork and Doctor’s certifications. In addition, four states plus the District of Columbia have made marijuana consumption recreational. The upcoming election in November 2016 is likely to produce many more recreational states, as well as some additional medical states.

What Is Recreational Marijuana?

Recreational marijuana consumption is currently recognized by Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and the District of Columbia, with many more states projected to gain legal status during the upcoming US election in November 2016. In the areas where reefer madness has overtaken, recreational consumption is only legal for adults over the age of 21 who hold valid ID. Additionally, it is only legal to purchase weed from a certified shop, where cannabis is often sold for competitive prices.
Some of these ganja shops have become quite an attraction to cannabis connoisseurs all over the US, with visitors and tourists travelling thousands of miles to buy a piece of the reefer revolution. This classic cannabis pilgrimage is typical for a state like Colorado, which is widely recognized as being 420-friendly.

What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana stamp

Medical marijuana is taken much more seriously than recreational consumption. For this reason, a much larger number of states recognizes marijuana on a medical level, making this medicine available to individuals who are considered patients, and must have a valid certification from a Doctor and a legitimate medical condition in order to obtain their card. Each state has different laws regarding what makes a patient qualified to receive their green medicine, plus a fee is generally required. Notoriously, California is one of the easier and cheaper states to obtain medical certification, and states such as Oregon have much stricter regulations and charge a greater fee. Additionally, the contending patient must provide valid ID from the state they are applying in. This keeps citizens of neighboring states from gaining medical certification in a location that is not their home. Currently, the age restriction for receiving a medical card is 18 years old, but younger patients who are in serious need of cannabis medicine can obtain a card with parent or guardian approval in some states.

The locations currently allowing medical cannabis use include, California, Nevada, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and the District of Columbia, plus the four states that recognize recreational consumption (Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado).

We hope this guide has provided you with some valuable information about recreation versus medical marijuana and that the way in which cannabis is categorized in the United States has now become clear as day!

Know that cannabis consumption is the responsibility of the consumer and discretion must be taken.