Medical vs recreational marijuana - what's the difference?

Medical vs recreational marijuana - what's the difference?
Steven Voser

Both medical and recreational weed have been hot topics lately, but is there really a difference? No, there's not. It's all very individual, just like us.

Short answer: There is no difference between medical and recreational cannabis. It's all about how you intend to use it.

Every strain, regardless of THC or CBD content, can be used medicinally by someone, depending on their condition and how their body reacts to unique combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes.

The same strain can also be used recreationally by someone else, whether they're looking for a mental high, a body buzz, or just a peaceful, easy feeling.

It's all very individual, just like us.


The main ingredient of cannabis that probably everybody knows is THC. But besides THC, which is the psychoactive component of cannabis, there are at least 113 different cannabinoids present in the plant.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the cannabinoid that is mostly appreciated for its medicinal properties. And nowadays many strains are bred to only have high CBD percentages, and practically no THC.

Strains with very high CBD percentages, and very high CBD to THC ratios, like Charlotte's Web, do have special medical uses. They have little to no psychoactive high, and in some cases display an uncanny ability to reduce for instance epileptic seizures in intractable cases to practically nil, sometimes when the strongest pharmaceuticals could not.[1]

CBD has been all over the news and the net, and it's being used as a treatment for many different ailments.


Most marijuana plants look pretty much the same. Some will be shorter. Some will be taller. Some will have the big, fat leaves of an indica. Others will have skinny sativa leaves. Most will be green, but the flowers and mature leaves can be any color of the rainbow.

Even experts can't separate medical plants from recreational ones (if there was such a thing) on looks alone, without knowing the genetic makeup of each one. A plant with higher CBD percentages looks exactly the same as a plant with none.


Because, to some degree, the moral and legal climate has convinced many people that recreational is bad and medical is good.

Then, there's the grass-roots movement of people who have seen the medical benefits of cannabis first-hand. They advocate vocally for legalization so that everyone can have free access to what they see as a miracle cure.

Labeling marijuana as medicinal also helps justify research, and research is always a good thing. It helps us know exactly what marijuana can and can't do, and what components are responsible for any health benefits it may be responsible for.

That way, if you choose an alternative treatment option as either a replacement or add-on to more conventional treatment options, you will know what to look for.


As said before. There isn't really any difference between medical and recreational marijuana, it just depends on what it's used for.


  1. ^ Scientific American, Marijuana Treatment Reduces Severe Epileptic Seizures, retrieved November-08-2018

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.