Medical Marijuana Vs Recreational Marijuana – What’s The Difference?

Medical Marijuana Vs Recreational Marijuana – What’s The Difference?

Although recreational marijuana dispensaries and licensed producers have similar products, the two methods of obtaining cannabis and where it comes from do differ.

Below we’ve listed a few main differences between the two ways of obtaining cannabis.


With marijuana legalization in Canada, many people that have existing medical conditions are walking into dispensaries to find what they need to self medicate.

Some groups such as the Canadian Medical Association may argue that there is no longer a need for Medical marijuana. Others worry that users with conditions will no longer have access to the right information, dosages, strains and general help.

This topic can definitely get confusing, so it’s important to know the difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. This way you can make the best decision for your needs.
Read on to learn more about the differences.

difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana

Recreational & Medical Access

With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Oct 2018, dispensaries have been faced with a few challenges. The current shortage in CBD oils and different cannabis strains have caused a few dispensaries across Canada to sell out quickly.

In Alberta, CBD oil and pot shortages are keeping new dispensaries from even opening shop, leaving many users with questions. To make matters worse, according to Global News and Financial Post, they believe the shortage crisis can last for years.

However, what does that mean for medical marijuana?

CBD oils have become more popular than producers expected. There is a growing number of consumers looking for solutions without the need to smoke or get high. This, of course, has also led to a massive shortage of CBD oil across Canadian dispensaries. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get access to treatment.

If you’re suffering from a medical condition and rely on cannabis, note that having a prescription can get you regular access to the strains and/or CBD oil you require for medical purposes.

You’ll first have to speak with a qualified physician to see if marijuana is right for you. A prescription can easily be obtained if you have a qualifying condition. Some conditions include, but are not limited to:

• Epilepsy

• Migraines


• Depression

• Arthritis

• Seizures

• Sleep disorders

• Chronic pain

• Fibromyalgia


• Others

If you book an appointment with a qualified physician online, the process is much faster. You will also be connected with Health Canada approved Licensed Producers. The good thing about this is that many of these producers reserve CBD oils and certain cannabis strains for medical purposes. This allows you to have consistent access to the medication you need with little to no delays.

CBD to THC Balance

There are two main chemicals in cannabis plants: THC and CBD. THC is psychoactive which produces the “head high”, whereas CBD mainly provides pain relief, anti-anxiety benefits, and inflammation reduction.

Marijuana is generally very high in THC compared to CBD. But, for medical marijuana patients, a more balanced THC-to-CBD ratio is often sold. This means that medical marijuana licensed producers are more likely to sell higher CBD products.

That said, If you’re looking for fewer health benefits and more of a head high, a recreational dispensary that sells higher THC marijuana might be for you.

If you’re looking for relief of certain medical conditions, then perhaps a more balanced ratio or just CBD from a medical cannabis producer is the answer.

However, self-medicating is not recommended. It’s difficult for many to know exactly what they need for their condition. In some cases, symptoms can even worsen if the ratios and strains are wrong for your condition.
A medical marijuana doctor can help you find out what you need, the dosage, ratio, types and connect you with resources and knowledge involving the medical marijuana industry.


Medical marijuana is taxed less heavily than marijuana sold in recreational dispensaries. Recreational marijuana is subject to taxes and markups due to shipping costs and provincial taxes. This is one reason why some veteran marijuana users may be a bit wary about walking into dispensaries.

Prices for medical marijuana, however, has been fairly steady and is expected to stay that way for some time. there is also less concern over price inflation due to supply and demand.

The other fantastic benefit is that marijuana for medical purposes can be claimed as a medical expense when filing your tax return. This further helps with the overall cost, making medical marijuana more financially accessible than recreational.


Both recreational and medical marijuana licensed producers are highly regulated. They must meet certain standards such as cleanliness, laboratory testing for pesticides, chemicals, proper packaging, and accurate potency information, etc.This means that as long as you purchase from a licensed producer, you can trust that the product is of high quality.

But there are added benefits to purchasing medical cannabis from an LP. Patients have access to more strains, oils, capsules and licensed producers than recreational users.

How to Obtain a Medical Marijuana Prescription

Figuring out how to get a medical marijuana prescription can be confusing and intimidating, especially if you’re a long-time recreational or self-medicated user.

Unfortunately, although there is a lot of information online that is helpful, there is also an equal amount of misinformation. Information online has led many people to choose to self medicate, causing more complications for their symptoms instead of relief.

SmartLeaf Health Services understands that people with medical conditions are looking for proper guidance more than ever.

If you think a medical marijuana prescription is for you, SmartLeaf Health Services makes accessing natural relief for your condition as a Calgary resident simple and fast.

  1. After booking an appointment with SmartLeaf Health Services, a qualified doctor will evaluate your condition to determine if you make a good candidate for medicinal marijuana use.
  2. If you’re eligible, the physician will write a prescription authorizing the use of medical cannabis. Our patient care team will then follow up and guide you through the next steps.
  3. If you would like to learn more about medical cannabis, our Medical Marijuana Counselling team will schedule an education session. You will be armed with the foundational knowledge you need to help choose the correct treatment and licensed producer.
  4. Once you’ve decided on a licensed producer, a representative will register your prescription with the producer where you can then create an account and order your medication to be delivered to your door.
  5. You’ll continue to have access to informational classes and workshops, as well as our patient portal at all times.

The Verdict: Think about both options carefully before making a choice

So, now that you know the difference between medical and recreational marijuana, which one should you choose?
Well, if you have a verified medical condition that cannabis can be used to provide relief from, you should take advantage of the many benefits medical cannabis has to offer. This will save you money and provide a higher level of CBD for pain and anxiety relief.

To learn more about medical marijuana and book an appointment for a prescription, visit today. We are also available by phone at 403-648-9221.
Just have questions? Feel free to give us a call.


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