Recreational Marijuana 101: Everything You Need to Know

It is natural for any first-time marijuana user to wonder what is recreational marijuana. It is also common to ask what makes marijuana recreational and what makes it medical? If you live in Canada then you must understand the different recreational marijuana Canada rules as well as the different ways to purchase and grow this kind of cannabis.

In learning what recreational marijuana is, you need to also understand what therapeutic or medical cannabis is.

Recreational and medical marijuana explained

Medical marijuana

Medical marijuana can pertain to using the whole unprocessed plant or the chemicals found within the plant used to deal with certain conditions or diseases. Keep in mind that up to this day and despite the benefits of recreational and medical marijuana, the FDA does not approve or recognize cannabis as a medicine.

The marijuana plant is made up of more than 100 chemicals, which are called cannabinoids. Each of these cannabinoids has different effects on the body. Of all the chemicals in weed, two are the most prominent: CBD or cannabidiol and THC or tetrahydrocannabinol.

Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the psychoactive compound contained in marijuana. This is the component of cannabis that makes you high. Meanwhile, cannabidiol or CBD does not cause any psychoactive effects and is known as the therapeutic component of marijuana.

Medical marijuana contains higher CBD content although it still has THC content. The CBD counteracts the THC effects which mean medical marijuana users can use medical cannabis minus the high.

What is recreational marijuana?

Recreational marijuana is a kind of weed that is used for other reasons than for therapeutic reasons. Most of the time, recreational cannabis strains contain more THC than CBD and hence these will produce a psychoactive high.

The development of recreational marijuana over the years

For centuries now, people have been using cannabis recreationally. In the United States, the history of recreational cannabis dates back to the 1890s where weed was found in a number of medicines that are sold without a prescription. Meanwhile, hemp was used to manufacture fabrics for clothes.

In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act required that all cannabis products should be labeled for safety. In the 1920s the rise of the use of recreational cannabis was seen after Mexican immigrants came to the United States during the Mexican Revolution.

In 1931, recreational marijuana states were identified. Twenty-nine US states prohibited marijuana and five years after, the movie “Reefer Madness” scared middle-class Americans from using marijuana.

In the 1960s more and more Americans, especially upper-class people used pot recreationally. It was during this time when the effects of recreational marijuana were studied and was found without any component that can cause violent behavior.

In the 1970s, marijuana was differentiated from seriously harmful drugs thus many mandatory sentences were repealed. But this did not last long, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan announced tighter rules on harmful drug use including cannabis. New federal mandatory sentences were introduced.

More than 12 states voted to decriminalize medical marijuana use from the year 2000 to 2011. But due to federal laws, people could be charged for possession and using marijuana. In 2012, Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize the use of recreational cannabis for some adults.

Each state that legalized the use of cannabis has their own rules regarding the consumption, growing, and sale of cannabis.

In 2018, Canada declared the use of recreational and medicinal cannabis legal in all its provinces. Before the country only legalized medical cannabis but this year recreational weed was included.

Canadians who are 18 years old and above can purchase recreational and medical cannabis, marijuana products and seeds from local dispensaries and stores authorized to sell. If these stores have online sites, they may order from these and have their orders delivered to their homes.

Canadians can grow recreational and medicinal cannabis in their homes provided they follow the number of plants that can be grown and the amount of weed they can carry around.

Thee re are certain designations where users can consume cannabis in Canada. Workplaces should be free from cannabis and drivers should not be under the influence of cannabis when driving.

The main differences between recreational and medicinal marijuana

Recreational marijuana has a higher THC content compared to medical marijuana. This means people who consume recreational cannabis are more for the “high” effect than cannabis’ medical benefits.

Medical marijuana contains a higher CBD content than recreational cannabis. You don’t feel the “high” that’s associated with recreational marijuana. There’s no actual difference between the concentrates and flowers of both marijuana types.

You need a prescription to use medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana may be purchased by anyone but you need to have a qualifying condition to receive a medical marijuana recommendation. This prescription should be regularly renewed.

Because you don’t need the recommendation to purchase recreational marijuana, you can go to any recreational dispensary and purchase what you need if this is legalized from where you are located and you are over the minimum age. You don’t need a medical card to buy recreational cannabis.

The allowable age to purchase cannabis depends on where you are located. In some countries like Canada, you need to be over 18 to purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary and to buy medical marijuana for yourself.

However, there are certain circumstances where young people or those younger than 18 can apply for a medical marijuana card. This may vary from state to state, therefore, you must do your own research if you or a family member needs a medical marijuana card for a certain condition.

You must be over 21 to purchase recreational marijuana from a dispensary. To purchase recreational marijuana from states where it’s legal you must present an identification to prove you’re over the age of 21.

If you are in a state where recreational pot is regulated and you are over 21, you can simply purchase this in a dispensary and presenting your driver’s license. Medical weed can be obtained from any local medical pot dispensary. You can purchase recreational marijuana from a dispensary if this is legal in your state.

Medical vs recreational prices

The price of medical and recreational cannabis could vary greatly. Usually, medical cannabis is more expensive considering the quality of the weed available. Medical cannabis needs to be made from the best strains that contain potent CBD or THC. The price from one state to another and from one country to another may vary greatly as well.

Usually, medical cannabis in purer form is very expensive like concentrates, CBD oils, and tinctures. Cannabis edibles are the most affordable and are more preferred by people who cannot tolerate consuming medical cannabis by smoking or vaping. Edibles like candy, brownies, cookies, and oils come with accurate dosing.

On the other hand, recreational cannabis is less expensive but it still depends on what strain you are buying. Some prized strains are very expensive but common strains are cheaper. Recreational cannabis in a pure form such as concentrates and oils are more expensive compared to dried buds and edibles.

Understanding THC and CBD effects

THC and CBD are the two main active components of cannabis plants. These are classified as cannabinoids and both are in medical and recreational marijuana. And to understand the difference between THC and CBD, you must first understand what a cannabinoid is.

What is a cannabinoid?

Marijuana plants have more than 500 natural components or compounds, with cannabinoids the most significant. Cannabinoids are substances that produce the common effects of marijuana on the body. THC produces the “high” that is in recreational weed, and CBD has medicinal content which is present in medical cannabis. The relationship between CBD and THC with respect to the human body is multifaceted.

There are cannabinoids that are psychoactive, but the most interesting and the most significant is THC.  THC can give you that familiar high while CBD has a calming effect which is in medicinal marijuana.

Your brain produces its own cannabinoids similar to the compounds in marijuana. The brain is able to do this thanks to its endocannabinoid system. This part is important when it comes to emotion, appetite, movement, and sleep.

Cannabinoids usually interact with specific cannabinoid receptors in the body, activating CB1 receptors in the nerve endings, nervous system, brain and CB2 receptors in the immune system.

When you consume marijuana, THC attaches to the cannabinoid receptors to activate the endocannabinoid system. This slows your reaction times, affects your judgment and your memory. CB1 receptors are found within the brain eliciting the familiar high.

But THC is not all psychoactive. This cannabinoid also has therapeutic effects as well. THC has natural analgesic effects and can bust pains like headaches, muscle pains and migraines to dust. THC also has effects on appetite; it can improve appetite and stop nausea which is common in people undergoing chemotherapy.

CBD which is naturally non- psychoactive may also have calming effects on your nervous system together with reducing pain and improving mood.

Differences between THC and CBD

Now that you know the notable distinctions between THC and CBD the next are detailed differences between the two compounds. You will know why medical cannabis puts emphasis on CBD.

The high of recreational cannabis is just the tip of the iceberg. THC gives you a high and CBD doesn’t have this effect. When you take marijuana medicinally, you want to relieve a specific medical condition and to have a better quality of life than feeling that you are high on weed.

This reason is why CBD is so appealing when you think of marijuana from a medical standpoint. CBD is known to have fewer side effects than marijuana with potent THC levels. However, just because medical weed has a high CBD content this doesn’t necessarily mean it has very low THC levels.

Anti-psychotic effects of CBD are proven. Aside from being non-psychoactive, CBD reduces the mind-altering effects of THC. When CBD is used on its own, it seems to retain anti-psychotic effects and can be used for the treatment of mental conditions.

Curing anxiety with medicinal cannabis. Usually, people who consume a lot of recreational pot can begin to feel paranoid or anxious. CBD can cancel out anxiety caused by ingesting THC. It has been reported that CBD can reduce general anxiety.

You can improve sleep with recreational cannabis. Many people use cannabis to help them have a good night’s sleep.  THC content in cannabis creates this effect. CBD is known to have a wake-inducing agent that helps you stay awake, so it’s not a good choice for the treatment of insomnia and sleeplessness. Take note that some strains of cannabis have sleep-inducing qualities, while others can give you a boost of energy.

The differences in the profiles of cannabinoids will vary from strain to strain. Strains that have high CBD are mostly used for their medical benefits, while those with high THC levels are used as recreational cannabis. People with chronic conditions, like cancer and epilepsy, prefer CBD strains because these provide more medicinal effect and pure CBD will not make you high.

The differences between indica and sativa strains

There are two main types of cannabis plants: indica and sativa plants. Indica can make you feel heavy because this mainly affects the body. Indica strains come with more CBD and hence are mostly used as medicinal cannabis. Indica strains have denser plant structures and are smaller than other plants.

Sativa will make you feel euphoric and will affect your mind more than anything else. Sativas contain more THC, therefore, are mostly used as recreational cannabis. These plants are skinny and tall than all types of cannabis.

Medical pot consumers will prefer indica. Indica strains are effective for anxiety, migraines, and pain. On the other hand, recreational users go for sativa strains. However, sativas also have medicinal effects like pain relief, reduction of insomnia and enhancing poor appetite.

Medical marijuana uses

Medical marijuana may be used for a variety of medical conditions. It can be used for appetite loss, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, cancer, eating disorders, mental health conditions, glaucoma, muscle pains, multiple sclerosis, nausea, and pain.

It is not yet proven to treat some of these conditions, marijuana is known to help reduce chronic pain, vomiting, and nausea due to the side effects of chemotherapy. Now people who are undergoing this procedure can rest assure that they will avoid these side effects as they take medical cannabis.

Medical marijuana for nausea relief. Synthetic THC has been proven to reduce nausea in AIDS patients. This study was made at the St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa. This showed that 38 percent of patients who were using five mg of Marinol, a drug containing marijuana, per day for a period of six weeks, found their nausea was reduced and their appetite improved to 8 percent than of people who used a placebo.

When used to treat nausea associated with cancer, a Switzerland review of medical marijuana found that marijuana-based drugs worked better than commonly prescribed anti-nausea drugs when undergoing

Nerve pain reduction. Patients afflicted with conditions like spinal cord injuries, AIDS and diabetes may suffer from burning pain felt in the feet and hands. A review of studies by the University of California San Francisco has revealed that smoking pot may provide patients with effective relief.

Multiple sclerosis treatment. Sativex is an oral spray that contains THC and CBD. Based on a U.K. study of 66 participants with MS found that 42 percent experienced pain relief from using Sativex. Aside from MS, this drug may also be used in the treatment of stiff and tight muscles which are also symptoms of MS.

Meanwhile, CBD-rich marijuana is considered more useful in situations like the treatment of seizures in children, epilepsy in children and the treatment of schizophrenia. A cannabis-based drug trial using  27 young people produced a 50 percent reduction in treatment-resistant epilepsy seizures.

Medical dispensary vs recreational

How do you purchase medical marijuana?

To buy medical marijuana, you must live in a state where it’s legal to buy and consume marijuana. You must possess a recommendation provided by an approved physician. You must be suffering from a condition or illness that qualifies you to use medical cannabis. Each state has its own list of qualifying conditions regarding the different conditions. You must have a medical ID card and be included in a medical marijuana database to buy the medication from a local dispensary.

Inside a medical cannabis dispensary

After you get your recommendation you are advised to visit a medical cannabis dispensary. If you have never been inside a medical cannabis dispensary in the US or in Canada then you might be feeling hesitant to do so.

If you are used to buying weed from local dealers or from the black market then you will be surprised as to what you will see here. You can expect a security guard at the door of a regulated and licensed dispensary. He ensures the safety and security of customers as well as the personnel who works in the dispensary.

Usually, dispensaries come with heavy, locked doors. This is because licensed dispensaries are targets for thieves and tend to handle large amounts of cash, so a security guard, as well as security systems, are very important.

On your first visit to the dispensary, you need to present your recommendation. A copy of this will be asked so that this will be entered into the system. Having a file handy in a local dispensary will make it easier to purchase your supply the next time.

You will be required to sign in and to remain in a waiting room until your name is called. The waiting room is where you can have a look at the menu of products offered by the dispensary. Simply decide on the weed you want based on the recommendation you were provided and how much you need. Then the staff at the dispensary will assist you to complete your transaction. You will be asked to pay for it by cash.

Your order will be in a safe and labeled container. The container has a label with the name of the strain, the name of the grower, the date the weed was harvested, THC and CBD levels as well as other cannabinoid levels and other necessary information.

As with any new experience, your next trips to the dispensary will become more natural to you.  Remember when you’re carrying your supply on you or inside your vehicle, you must have a copy of your recommendation or medical care from your doctor with you at all times. If you are questioned by authorities regarding the possession of cannabis, simply present your medical card and recommendation.

You may also want to have your purchases delivered to you if you are unable to buy from a dispensary personally. Some dispensaries in Canada offer home deliveries as long as you can provide proof of identity and age as you receive your orders. If you are not there to receive these, a representative who is older than 18 may receive your order by Canada Post.

How do you buy recreational marijuana?

If you live in states and places where recreational cannabis is legal and you are over 21, you can legally buy recreational weed. You can buy this from any cannabis business or dispensary. Usually, in places and states where cannabis is prohibited, this is purchased illegally on the street or from an online retailer.

Inside a recreational marijuana dispensary

When you’re purchasing from a recreational pot dispensary, it’s not too different from a medical one. There are some differences as well. First, you must prove that you are over 21. To verify, you will need to shop a government-issued ID.

You must be careful and always be aware of THC potencies in various products. THC-infused products like edibles and concentrates can be very potent when it comes to psychoactive effects. For this reason, you need to ask personnel from the dispensary for advice.

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