Aside from a difference in laws, the product is the same: It’s marijuana. We smoke it, eat it, drink it, rub it all over our bodies.
Marijuana is now legal in over half the nation for one reason or another. Some states have found it is acceptable for weed to be used for medicinal purposes, while others have taken it to the next level — allowing pot products to be sold in retail dispensaries in a manner similar to beer. This form of legalization has been deemed “recreational” marijuana.
Most folks support the medical marijuana movement wholeheartedly, as it can be used to help people with a wide range of health conditions from cancer to chronic pain. But others draw the line at the recreational stuff. Perhaps they’re worried that allowing adults 21 and over to smoke weed just for fun will lead to more debauchery than this country can handle. Or maybe they just don’t realize yet that there really is no difference between recreational and medicinal marijuana.
This is a controversial subject for sure. Diehard medical marijuana purists will wear themselves out arguing the difference between medicinal and recreational cannabis if engaged in a debate. But aside from a difference in laws, the product is the same: We smoke it, eat it, drink it, rub it all over our bodies — and we do it pretty much the same way regardless of whether we have aches and pains or just want an altered state of consciousness. There is no “special” brand of pot that has been set aside exclusively for people with legitimate medical conditions. Nope. We’re all getting the same weed.
The only real difference is that some medical marijuana patients are purchasing strains higher in cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant, and not paying taxes typically associated with the recreational sector. Other than that, it’s really a matter of semantics. Call it cannabis, weed, smoke, dope or pot. It all leads to the same place: stoned.
It has been said that all marijuana is medicinal. The idea is that in spite of the reason a person is using it, it is therapeutic in function because it is improving their quality of life though a safe and natural means. We can get onboard with that. The concept of medical marijuana is actually thousands of years old. It was used by ancient civilizations to treat a variety of conditions from absent-mindedness, constipation and gout. Hell, the Greeks even used the herb to treat injured horses. Interestingly, before it was outlawed in the United States through the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, American drug stores were selling cannabis to cure all sorts of ailments, including “crazy” women with “abnormal sexual” appetites. It was even marketed at one time by drug company Wm. S. Merrell as a remedy for gonorrhea. Cannabis was considered a wonder drug.
But alcohol, American’s favorite social inebriant, sold almost everywhere to adults 21 and older, was also considered to have medicinal properties at one time. It too was employed by ancient societies to for various health conditions, finding purpose as a disinfectant. And back in the years of alcohol prohibition in the U.S., doctors could were writing people prescriptions for “medicinal alcohol” for a variety of reasons, such as cancer, indigestion and depression. But it was all a scam just so people could “legally” drink.
“Presumably, doctors were doing examinations and diagnoses, but it was mostly bogus,” Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, told The Smithsonian.
Sound familiar? Eventually the country came to its senses and began allowing booze to be sold to citizens at the “recreational” level. These days, it doesn’t matter if a person consumes alcoholic beverages for therapeutic reasons or just for fun. It’s all leads to the same place – drunk.
Eventually, marijuana will adopt this ethos. It has already happened in a handful of states. Although “medical marijuana” was how legalization was originally packaged, it is now on its last leg. Just look to Canada, which has had a medicinal cannabis program on the books since 2001. The country is preparing to launch a fully legal recreational market late this summer. As soon as this happens, it will no longer be necessary for people to get permission from a physician to use the herb. It will be legally accessible to all adults, and the medical marijuana program will eventually collapse. We are already seeing signs of this happening in medical marijuana states that have passed recreational laws.
So it stands to reason that once the United States finally legalizes recreational marijuana nationwide, the medical marijuana label will forever fade into the footnotes of history. So what’s the difference between medical and recreational marijuana? Time.