What’s the Difference Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana in CA

California has legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational use, but there are still many questions about how it will work. One question that many people have is what the difference between medical and recreational marijuana in CA. Medical cannabis is used to treat a variety of conditions like chronic pain, cancer, AIDS/HIV, epilepsy or seizures (epilepsy), glaucoma (glaucoma), muscle spasms (multiple sclerosis), and nausea from chemotherapy treatment.

Recreational pot can be enjoyed without any prescription which means you can smoke it on your own time!

It’s important to remember that both types of cannabis carry different risks and benefits so make sure you know which one you’re using before making any decisions about where to get it.

Here are some key differences between medical and recreational marijuana in CA.

Medical vs Recreational Marijuana in CA

  • A prescription is required for medical pot. This means that there’s a process to follow with your doctor before you can use it. You’ll be able to talk about what conditions the cannabis could help treat as well as the dosage, potential side effects, and risks involved.
  • Medical weed can only be used by people over 18 years old. Recreational cannabis can be used by anyone over the age of 21.
  • There are more restrictions on the amount of medical marijuana that can be possessed at any one time. Recreational users can possess up to an ounce of weed at a time while medical marijuana users can only possess up to eight ounces.
  • Medical pot is more expensive than recreational weed – it’s sometimes even four times higher! Once you have your prescription for medical marijuana, you’ll be able to get the best deals so make sure that you know how much each strain costs before buying any pot on the market.
  • Medical marijuana is taxed at a lower rate than recreational marijuana.

Medical vs Recreational Quality

Medical marijuana

Medical and recreational marijuana in CA is not the same. Medical quality products are much more expensive, and they must be lab-tested for safety. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot purchase medical quality cannabis at a dispensary like you would buy groceries or clothes. You can only get it from a licensed physician after getting approval from your healthcare provider. To make matters worse, the supply of medical-grade cannabis is limited because there are few qualified physicians who will prescribe it due to the high demand and low supply of doctors with expertise in this area–making access even more difficult than before.

Proposition 64 was passed legalizing recreational marijuana use in California on November 9th, 2018. The legalization has made it easier for people to buy weed without needing a medical card, but it’s also opened the door to many unlicensed dispensaries and growers who are selling low-quality products that don’t meet safety standards.

Recreational cannabis

Recreational cannabis is much more accessible and affordable than medical quality. You can find it at any licensed dispensary in California, and there is no need for a medical card to purchase it.

Recreational quality is subject to strict safety guidelines, but recreational marijuana can be grown by anyone who has met the requirements for licensing (they must pay taxes on their product and use approved testing facilities) which means that there are many more producers than before legalization and not all of them meet proper standards.


Medical marijuana has higher concentrations of CBD than recreational marijuana. This is because CBD has been shown to have medical benefits such as reducing seizures and anxiety, while THC is the compound in marijuana that gets you high.


Medical marijuana is labeled with the amount of THC and CBD it contains, so you know how potent it is. Recreational marijuana isn’t required to label its potency.

Growing Conditions

Medical marijuana is only grown in specific conditions, whether indoors or outdoors, while recreational marijuana can be grown anywhere. This leads to medical marijuana being more expensive than recreational weed because it’s harder to grow and has less supply. Recreational cannabis is also not tested for pesticides like medical weed is required to be by law.

Strain Types

Medical marijuana is available in a wider variety of strains because it can be bred specifically for your condition. You’ll find that most dispensaries have hundreds of different types, while recreational weed usually only has one or two dozen. This means medical cannabis could potentially help more people with their specific conditions than recreationally grown weed would.

Purchasing Limits

Medical marijuana patients are limited to how much they can purchase each day, while recreational users aren’t. This is because people who use medical cannabis typically need larger doses than those who only use it recreationally. Recreational weed is also more expensive per ounce than medical marijuana.


When you think of the difference between medical and recreational marijuana, it’s likely that your first thought is in relation to who can purchase them. In California, both are legal but only those with a doctor’s prescription for medical cannabis may buy it from dispensaries or grow their own plants at home. Recreational pot sales remain illegal because no such requirement exists. However, the main difference between medical and recreational marijuana in CA is not who can buy it, but how it’s taxed.

Medical cannabis is subject to a 7 percent state sales tax, while recreational pot is hit with a 15 percent excise tax in addition to the regular sales tax. That means for customers buying from dispensaries, medical marijuana will be a little cheaper.

As of now, the state does not require MMJ patients to pay local sales tax for their purchases at dispensaries or cultivation centers. Localities can impose taxes on medical cannabis businesses as they see fit, but it’s uncommon. For example, only four California cities currently levy separate marijuana business license fees: Sacramento ($20,000), Oakland ($30,000), West Hollywood ($100,000), and San Jose ($50,000).

The big question is whether the state will eventually merge its two marijuana tax structures. That could mean a higher overall sales tax on recreational weed and less of a price advantage for medical cannabis. But it’s also possible that lawmakers decide to keep the medical tax at seven percent and add an additional excise tax on recreational marijuana.

Only time will tell what the future of cannabis taxation in California holds. In the meantime, both medical and recreational pots remain available to consumers who want them. You can get more information at CBD school.

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