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  • Writer's pictureAshley Slimak

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

Medical marijuana vs recreational marijuana
Learn more about the difference between medical and recreational marijuana.

Arkansas voters have an important decision to make when they head to vote later this year. Will they vote for or against the legalization of recreational marijuana?

Thanks to the passing of Amendment 98 in 2016, patients with one of the qualifying medical conditions have legal access to medical cannabis, so long as they have their medical marijuana card.

But anyone else who wants to try legal cannabis cannot do so within state borders. They would need to travel to one of the 11 states (or the District of Columbia) with legal recreational cannabis to partake.

While there are many arguments for allowing recreational cannabis into Arkansas, from decreasing drug trafficking to supporting the local economy, few of these reports answer a simple question: are there any differences between recreational and medical marijuana?

For instance, would recreational marijuana be less expensive than medical cannabis? How would the products themselves differ? And what would it look like if recreational cannabis was legal in Arkansas?

Medical vs Recreational Cannabis: Potency, Price, and Variety

Marijuana dispensaries carry both dried cannabis flower, known as bud, and multiple products made from these flowers. These include edibles, concentrates, and tinctures.

All of the products in these two types of dispensaries are made using the same cannabis strains. As a result, the dried flower sold within is identical. The only difference between the flower is the price (more on this shortly) and who can access it.

But there are some differences between the cannabis-derived products, including the edibles, cape cartridges, and tinctures. Typical recreational products are higher in THC and lower in CBD when compared to medical products.

THC is the compound in cannabis that results in the psychoactive effects. Because some recreational pot users are seeking the “high” above all else, THC-heavy products receive a higher share of the profits and are therefore more readily available.

CBD is another healthful nutrient in cannabis, but unlike THC, it doesn’t result in the same euphoric effects. In fact, research suggests that CBD may help to mitigate THC’s high, without taking away from marijuana’s medicinal benefits.

Because of this, medical cannabis concentrates and edibles tend to have higher concentrations of CBD than similar recreational products. The extra CBD allows medical patients to go about their daily lives while still receiving symptomatic relief.

That said, a savvy consumer can find what they’re looking for in either a medical or recreational setting. Each of these dispensaries carries a wide variety of products.

Recreational cannabis users can seek out high-CBD products to mitigate THC’s high. And a medical cannabis patient can find high-THC products for when they desire greater psychoactive effects.

Cannabis Prices and Recreational Marijuana

When it comes to the cost of cannabis, Arkansas medical marijuana is some of the most expensive in the nation. As more dispensaries and cultivators open, the price is likely to decrease slowly thanks to competition.

If recreational dispensaries are given the green light, they will create greater competition. As a result, cannabis costs could decrease further.

And this isn’t the only way that legal recreational cannabis could save money for Arkansas citizens. If either of the potential ballot measures in Arkansas passes, citizens will be allowed to grow their own cannabis plants (albeit a small number). After an initial investment, residents who want to grow their own can save money compared to buying the same quantity of flower at dispensaries.

But what about the actual prices of recreational cannabis compared with medical cannabis? In states that have both, recreational marijuana is usually slightly more expensive due to higher taxes on recreational products.

Who Would Have Access to Recreational Cannabis?

As it stands in Arkansas, medical marijuana is available for anyone 18 or older with a medical marijuana card. Recreational cannabis, on the other hand, would only be legal for those 21 years or older.

And there are other restrictions that would limit the irresponsible use of marijuana. Just as with alcohol, public consumption of cannabis would remain illegal. And you wouldn’t suddenly see marijuana bars popping up; only in-home use would be allowed.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Doctor
Arkansas Marijuana Card Doctor

If you are an Arkansan suffering from one of these 18 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.

Click here to learn more about what Arkansas Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (844-249-8714) and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.

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