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The Major Differences Between Medical Marijuana vs Recreational Marijuana


If you’re considering getting involved in the lucrative cannabis industry, it’s imperative that you understand the differences between medical marijuana vs recreational marijuana.

Luckily, it’s not as complicated as you may think. But, there are major components to keep in mind before setting out on your new cannabis business venture.

A few of these major factors to consider are:

  • Individual state laws

  • Differing regulations

  • THC contents

  • Quantity limits

  • Business opportunities

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the medical marijuana vs. recreational regulations along with business ideas to take into account before stepping into this competitive but profitable sector. As they say, knowledge is power, so let’s dive in!

Medical Marijuana vs Recreational: Understanding the differences

Who is a Medical Marijuana vs a Recreational Marijuana Consumer?

One of the most important differences between medical marijuana vs recreational is the consumer. Simply put, recreational marijuana is used for amusement or relaxation, not to treat an ailment or a verified medical condition. Those who use recreational weed do not have to prove that it is for anything other than enjoyment.

Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is consumed to treat symptoms from illnesses or chronic medical conditions. Generally, medical marijuana has a higher level of CBD in order to counteract the psychoactive effects found in THC. This enables patients to still experience the same relief but without the known head high that a product with higher THC provides (which is typically the side effect that recreational users are looking for).

Furthermore, while both have their own unique set of regulations, medicinal weed must undergo rigorous testing and has stricter legal requirements in order to ensure safety and quality for patients. Because of this, medical weed is seen to be of higher quality.

Documentation Required To Purchase Medicinal Weed

In legal medical states, anyone looking to consume medical marijuana must first receive a recommendation from a physician. Then, with this in hand, patients must obtain a marijuana card that verifies that they are eligible to purchase medicinal weed. In some states, even children can acquire a physician’s approval for cannabis use. Be sure to do thorough research into the regulations in your area.

On the other hand, to purchase recreational weed, no recommendation is required. Instead, in locations where recreational use is legal, consumers must be at least 21 years old to buy cannabis products. The legal age may differ depending on the state you’re in so, as always, it’s very important that you understand the regulations in yours.

Where To Purchase Cannabis Products

In states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, users must purchase it from a government-regulated dispensary. Patients will need to present their marijuana card before completing a purchase.

Differing Regulations

Now that you understand who can consume medical and recreational marijuana, and the key differences between them, the next step is taking a closer look at the business regulations involved.

As of April 2021, 36 states have legalized marijuana, and 13 of those have also approved recreational use. This number continues to rise as new laws are passed country-wide. If you are looking to start a cannabis company in any of these states, there are some very important legal regulations to adhere to. Each state has different laws surrounding the consumption and purchase of weed (which are constantly evolving) so it is key to do independent research for the regulations in your region. Click here for a state-by-state look at the legalities of cannabis.

Read on for a closer examination of the important regulatory factors to take into account before starting any marijuana venture—whether it caters to the medicinal or recreational crowd (or both).


In recreationally legalized states, users should be of legal age in order to possess and consume recreational marijuana. In most states, the legal age for medical use is typically 18, but that is changing as some states allow cannabis to be prescribed to children.


Each state has different laws that dictate how much weed a medical or recreational user can purchase. You can find more details about your state’s quantity limits here.


Government-authorized retail establishments are the only places where recreational or medicinal marijuana can be sold or purchased.


The appropriate business license you must obtain depends on the type of company you wish to start and the state you are planning to operate in. For instance, the Bureau of Cannabis Control in California helps license marijuana businesses (medical and recreational) such as retailers, cultivators, distributors, testing labs, and more.

Business Ideas

After you’ve sorted through which licenses and regulations might affect you, review the following business ideas—and some of the legal implications for each—to find a good match.


Growing (aka cultivating) cannabis can be a profitable business. However, it is very heavily regulated and it can be a costly investment if you want to grow on a larger scale. On top of the licenses required to operate, you’ll also need to ensure that you have adequate space, a business plan, connections throughout the marijuana supply chain, and horticultural experience.

The planting and cultivation of recreational and medicinal marijuana are also quite distinct. Cannabis that is going to be consumed for medicinal purposes must undergo a stricter growing process. This allows regulating bodies to closely monitor the product to ensure that it is safe for patients. Medicinal plants are frequently kept indoors so that it is easy to control the entire cultivation process. Furthermore, medical weed has to go through more testing procedures to ensure its quality. Cultivators who decide to grow both medical and recreational weed will commonly separate the plants for monitoring.

Regardless of whether or not your plants will be used for recreational or medical purposes, the best way to get a jump-start on any growing operation is to buy marijuana clones that are high-quality. That way, you can be confident in the plant’s genetics and have a better chance for success.

Buy high-quality marijuana clones for higher chances of growing success!


If you think opening a cannabis dispensary (retail shop) would be a better business opportunity, you can apply for licenses for recreational, medicinal, or both. In some instances, shops will even have one side devoted to recreational consumers and the other for medical shoppers. Follow these six essential steps when opening a retail shop:

  1. Have a work plan prepared

  2. Prepare a site and work facilities plan

  3. Develop a business plan

  4. Acquire supporting state agency approvals

  5. Obtain state cannabis licenses

  6. Keep your licenses up-to-date

What’s next? Pinpointing legal and regulated producers and manufacturers to partner with and start selling and profiting!


If you’d like to produce or manufacture edibles or consumables, you will need the appropriate state licenses. Note that some states even require that you have a commercial kitchen and that everything that goes into your product is made in-house.

Producing edibles takes a lot of knowledge and expertise. From cannabis-infused oils and gummy bears to pot brownies and marijuana coffee beans, there are a variety of products for customers to choose from these days. So the key is to experiment to find which niche is best for your goals!


Last but not least, you may choose to simply invest in a cannabis company instead of handling the plant yourself. Investing in a marijuana company involves the purchase of stocks of a legal and publicly traded cannabis business such as a grower, manufacturer, retailer, or pharmaceutical company. Additionally, you can even buy stocks of businesses that aren’t directly involved in the sale or production of marijuana but help grow the sector—such as a hydroponic business. By investing your money in companies that have good fundamentals, you too can profit from the cannabis industry without having to do the work of starting your own business.

Moving Ahead With Your Medical Marijuana Vs. Recreational Marijuana Knowledge For Business Success!

Now that you have a clearer understanding of medical marijuana vs. recreational, the legal conditions to take into account, and the business opportunities available, you can make an informed decision about which stream you’d most like to get involved in.

As discussed, the two types of marijuana don’t differ too significantly in a physical sense. However, the reason consumers purchase them, quality, regulations, and the monitoring of each can vary greatly. The first step is always doing your research to find out what is necessary to open a business in your state.

Until the U.S. legalizes marijuana nationwide, your state’s individual laws and regulations surrounding cannabis will be the toughest hurdle to overcome. But, once you have everything in order, you’ll be well on your way to running a thriving cannabis business for patients or adult users—or both!

Homegrown Nursery proudly signs the content on the Cannabis News Blog. We are a dependable source for healthy and feminized clones. For marijuana businesses and entrepreneurs, we offer special wholesale pricing. Get in touch for more details!

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