The Differences between Recreational Dispensary and Medical Dispensary
Colorado legalized recreational cannabis use back in 2012. Since then, we started building and enriching our Mountain Annie’s recreational dispensaries in Ridgway, Silverton, Durango, and Cortez to help people get access to high-quality cannabis products.
There are several differences between a recreational cannabis dispensary and a medical one. First of all, anyone over the age of 21 who wants to consume cannabis but doesn’t have a medical marijuana card can visit a recreational dispensary and choose from a wide range of products.
On the other hand, people who have a health issue that seems responsive to cannabis and marijuana can talk to their physician, who will prepare their medical marijuana certification. They can then register online as a new patient to get their medical marijuana card. Using this card, they can visit either a medical cannabis dispensary or a recreational marijuana one.
While both medical and recreational dispensaries sell cannabis and marijuana products, their process is not exactly the same. There are slight differences in terms of legal age, cannabis products, and even prices.
Here are some tips to help you choose the right kind of cannabis dispensary for you!
Both Medical Dispensaries and Recreational Dispensaries Sell Cannabis
Both recreational cannabis dispensaries and medical ones must be registered with the state as marijuana dispensaries.
The fundamentals are the same: both types of dispensaries sell products that contain THC and CBD and have been produced from cannabis. You will find some differences in terms of the offered selection, though. For example, you can’t buy synthetic THC products at a medical dispensary.
While there are many similarities, there are also plenty of differences between these two types of dispensaries.
The Purpose of Medical and Recreational Marijuana Dispensaries
The purpose of a medical dispensary is to sell cannabis products in a controlled environment to alleviate or mitigate a condition or its effects.
People who carry medical ca
nnabis cards have been prescribed cannabis by a physician to treat a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes you to suffer, including:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV),
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS),
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome / severe weight loss),
- Severe pain,
- Severe nausea,
- Seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy),
- Persistent muscle spasms (including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis),
- Any other medical condition approved by the state health agency, including in response to a patient or physician’s petition.
On the other hand, people who visit a recreational marijuana dispensary want to purchase cannabis for their wellbeing, relaxation, or lifestyle. People who come to Mountain Annie’s commonly use cannabis for relaxation and the gentle ‘high’ THC offers.
Differences in CBD and THC Content
Medical dispensaries are geared toward improving people’s health. Since people taking medical cannabis are primarily interested in its health potential rather than its psychotropic power, it makes sense they would prefer to take the full benefits of cannabis with fewer intoxicating effects. As a result, the cannabis they sell tends to have a more balanced CBD to THC ratio because CBD can counterbalance the ‘high’ that THC gives. The cannabis products they sell contain THC but also significant amounts of CBD.
Recreational cannabis is geared toward people taking it for recreation, relaxation, and general wellness. Cannabis flowers and products sold in recreational dispensaries contain more THC than CBD and the ratio is usually heavily skewed in favor of THC.
Cannabis Products in Medical and Recreational Dispensaries
A recreational dispensary often offers a wider range of THC products than a medical dispensary. Flowers, pre-rolls, edibles, gummies, and topicals are some of the methods of experiencing THC. People who want to experiment with cannabis commonly want to have as many options as possible.
A medical cannabis dispensary also gives people cannabis choices, but usually offers fewer consumption methods. You will get the marijuana that you need for your health expectation but you might not be offered a particularly wide variety of cannabis categories and products.
Product Quality in Medical and Recreational Dispensaries
Some people mistakenly believe that medical dispensaries offer better cannabis products than recreational ones. That is simply untrue.
Cannabis farming is heavily regulated and controlled. Because of the abundance of dispensaries, cannabis producers are keen on offering excellent product quality and great service.
It’s true that medical cannabis is sometimes better labeled, with the label offering more detailed medical information to consumers. However, in general terms, both medical and recreational dispensaries sell high-quality cannabis products.
Age Differences for Medical and Recreational Dispensaries
Medical dispensaries are accessible to people aged 18 and over. Recreational dispensaries require visitors to be at least 21 years old.
This age difference is because young adults may be experiencing medical conditions that may be soothed by cannabis. Therefore, giving them early access to medical cannabis makes sense.
Medical Justification for Recreational Dispensary
Anyone can walk into our Mountain Annie’s recreational dispensaries and buy marijuana products as long as they are over 21 years old.
However, medical dispensaries require medical justification and a medical cannabis card. People who wish to experience marijuana for recreation cannot buy their cannabis from a medical dispensary without a card.
Medical Cannabis Is Cheaper
Another difference between medical and recreational dispensaries is price. While they sell the same type of products, medical cannabis is often cheaper than recreational cannabis.
The reason behind the price difference is that medical cannabis is taxed at a lower rate than recreational cannabis. Colorado has imposed a 15% tax on recreational marijuana plus any local taxes.
Medical marijuana is taxed at 2.9% plus any local taxes. This means that the same product may be slightly cheaper in a medical dispensary than a recreational one.
Can You Buy More Cannabis at a Medical Dispensary?
Right now, a major advantage to having a Colorado medical marijuana ID card is that it allows you to possess more marijuana than recreational users. As a result, a medical dispensary allows you to purchase a larger quantity of marijuana than a recreational one. Specifically, you can buy up to 28 grams of cannabis, or 8 grams of concentrate, or 800 grams of edibles per day at a recreational dispensary, whereas a medical dispensary can give you up to 40 grams of concentrate or 20,000 grams of edibles daily.
However, new legislation coming into force in 2022 limits medical marijuana patients to eight grams per day of cannabis concentrate. This is lowered to two grams a day for patients ages 18-20. The law does, however, provide an exemption to this daily purchase limit for certain groups of people, such as those who can demonstrate physical or geographic hardship or those whose doctors recommend high dosage.
Recreational and Medical Dispensaries: How Many Are There?
18 states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis while 36 have legalized the medical use of cannabis.
This means that, at the national level, medical cannabis card holders have more opportunities to legally purchase their cannabis than recreational users. Four out of five Americans live in a state that has legalized marijuana at least medically. However, fewer Americans live in states that have legalized the recreational consumption of cannabis.
At a state level, there are over 1,000 dispensaries across Colorado. Some municipalities, such as Colorado Springs, only allow medical dispensaries (each municipality has the option to determine how legalization fits into their individual communities). On the other hand, Denver has 250 medical dispensaries in the greater Metro area plus an additional 200 recreational dispensaries.
Mountain Annie’s Recreational Dispensaries
Colorado was one of the first states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Since 2012, Coloradoans can enter a recreational dispensary like Mountain Annie’s and buy marijuana products for their personal consumption.
Our four locations across the western slopes help customers find a recreational marijuana dispensary close to their homes. Our experienced budtenders will help you pick the perfect product for you.
You can also buy your marijuana flowers, pre-rolls, vaporizers, concentrates, tinctures, edibles, or topicals from our Silverton, Durango, Ridgway, or Cortez e-shops and drop by for pickup once we have carefully prepared your order.