WHAT IS THE BIG DIFFERENCE?
In the cannabis world you hear a lot about two types of legal cannabis markets, Medical Cannabis and Recreational cannabis.
Medical cannabis is a term used to describe cannabis that has been grown with the specific purpose of being prescribed by a doctor to a patient for an approved medical condition.
The strains prescribed are the same strains found in recreational markets, the main difference is that the flower is grown in GMP facilities and is often subjected to radiation in an attempt to sanitise the product before being consumed (this can degrade the cannabis and its terpenes, but often only by a miniscule amount).
In the UK (and Channel Islands) a patient has to have tried multiple pharmaceutical options before being considered qualifying for a medical cannabis prescription. They are not guaranteed access just by being diagnosed with an approved medical condition.
Costs associated with a medical cannabis prescription are also high, with an average cost of £500 per month. This high cost factor alone means that medical cannabis is often not a viable option for lower income and some middle earners.
Medical cannabis is also high THC. A common misconception is that medical cannabis is not as strong as recreational and therefore considered “safe”. However as medical and recreational cannabis both include the same strains (and products such as vape carts and tinctures) medical cannabis is just as strong as what would be in a recreational cannabis market.
Recreational cannabis is any cannabis grown to be consumed for any purpose either medically or to enjoy safely and responsibly recreationally.
In recreational markets cannabis is only sold through licensed outlets called dispensaries. These vendors will need to be licensed to stock and sell cannabis based products similar to how liquor stores are currently.
As dispensaries have access a wider range of cultivars and manufacturers, customers now have the chance to find a strain or product better suited to their needs. This can be for people looking for less psychoactive products such as CBD, CBN, or low THC products, patients who are looking for specific terpene profiles for their conditions, to people who prefer various consumption methods (smoke/vape/edibles/sublingual/topicals).
As prices reduce in recreational market, and consumers no longer need to have specific conditions or have tried pharmaceuticals initially before gaining a prescription, it becomes fair for all to access cannabis. While product is only available through licensed dispensaries this means that there is still control over the supply of cannabis product to the public, and product must still be tested before reaching market.
Currently medical cannabis producers tend to keep the test results of their products closely guarded, in a recreational market test results can be produced for any and all the products available. Giving consumers the ability to see all results from cannabinoid levels (THC/CBD/etc), terpene profiles, but also chemical tests (such as pesticides and herbicides) and heavy metal tests. So you know exactly what is in your cannabis products.
SO WHICH IS BETTER?
We'll leave that for you to decide, with either market the goal should always be to create a safe access market for regulated products, a market where everyone has an equal opportunity to obtain safe products.