We’re glad you asked. Check out this breakdown of just a few of the differences between medical and recreational marijuana.

Shopping Experience

Generally speaking, most (Colorado) dispensaries have a medical side and a recreational side, meaning med patients have a designated area where only they can shop, and recreational shoppers must remain on the rec side (med patients do have the ability to go between both in the event the med side is unavailable or does not have what they need).

THC Potency Limits

Despite the popular belief that medical patients have access to higher doses of THC in a given cannabis product, there is not actual difference between medical and recreational marijuana. It can be as simple as two different plants of the same strain being grown on different sides of the grow house: one for recreational sale and one for medical use. It’s probably easier to find higher THC percentages in rec flower for the simple fact there are more rec grows than med grows in Colorado.

Quantity Limits + Plant Count

In Colorado, the limit on what recreational customers can purchase in 28 grams, whereas the limit for medical patients is higher. The same holds true when it comes to a recreational user growing plants vs a medical patient growing their medicine. For more information on the laws surrounding this topic, click here.

Case-Specific Access for Minors

There are some states that allow minors access to marijuana products if they suffer from specific conditions or ailments that require marijuana to fill in the gaps where traditional medications may not do the trick. A “minor applicant” is defined as a patient less than 21 years of age. In the event a minor requires medical marijuana in the state of Colorado, they must have two doctors sign off, and additionally must acquire their medication at a medical-only dispensary (OR the dispensary must have med and rec products in different rooms). For further details on medical access for minors in Colorado, click here.


There is still a divide when it comes to the acceptance of recreational marijuana vs. medical marijuana use. A greater percentage of Americans support medical cannabis than recreational adult use, although it is more commonly accepted now that one does not need to be suffering from a condition in order to consume. Some recreational users (or medical users) have found a product that helps them with other ailments while shopping for a primary remedy, which furthers the acceptance of cannabis culture.

Cannabis is still a relatively new legal product, however, the lines between medical and recreational use have been clearly drawn. In Colorado, the rules are set so there is as little confusion as possible when one enters a dispensary. Even though it may seem complicated at first, with a closer look and a quick study, one can easily decipher the dos and don’ts of the recreational and medical marijuana industry.