Medical vs Recreational Cannabis Dispensary: What’s the Difference?

Are you wondering what the difference might be between a medical vs. recreational cannabis dispensary?

It seems like no other industry is attracting more attention than the cannabis industry. With legalized recreational weed in Arizona, Colorado, and Washington, numerous other states are following suit.

Over the years, states have set very different regulations regarding medical vs. recreational cannabis. So if you’re thinking about buying it, you should be aware that there are significant differences between both kinds.

Keep reading, and this guide will help in answering your questions practically and pragmatically.

What Is ‘Regular’ Cannabis?

“Regular” marijuana, or non-medical cannabis, is typically referred to as recreational cannabis. Unlike medical marijuana, if your state has legalized recreational use, you don’t need a medical card to purchase. Additionally, you don’t need a medical need for marijuana.

Recreational cannabis is typically used to get high, as it contains varying levels of THC, which is the compound that gives you that high.

What Is Medical Cannabis?

You need to be state-qualified to receive marijuana from a medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC). An MMTC is also known as a medical cannabis dispensary.

Medical cannabis typically does not have THC but instead focuses on CBD, which stands for cannabidiol. CBD strains do not evoke the psychoactive effects affiliated with recreational marijuana.

Recreational Cannabis Dispensary vs. Medical Cannabis Dispensary

There are a few minor differences between a recreational and a medical cannabis dispensary which we will discuss below.

Medical Cannabis Dispensary

This type of cannabis dispensary focuses on marijuana that doesn’t have high levels of THC if any at all. As previously mentioned, THC is the active ingredient that gives the user a euphoric ‘high.’ Instead, medical cannabis has much higher levels of CBD or cannabidiol.

CBD is directly derived from the hemp plant (a cousin of the cannabis plant) or manufactured in a factory.

Buying from a medical cannabis dispensary, you will have to provide your ID and medical card. This will state that you have been prescribed medical marijuana. In addition, the dispensary has to be licensed by the state to sell medical marijuana as well.

Employees in a medical cannabis dispensary will also have undergone training. This means they are qualified to answer any questions you may have when purchasing.

Recreational Cannabis Dispensary

A recreational cannabis dispensary can sell both medical and recreational marijuana. This is because they still have to be licensed by the state as a medical dispensary would be.

Customers don’t require a medical card to purchase their weed. However, depending on state laws, you may have to provide an ID to prove you are of the legal age to consume cannabis.

Employees in recreational cannabis dispensaries may not be trained to answer medically related questions regarding cannabis.

If you’re over 21 and in Arizona, you can purchase recreational marijuana from companies like,, and

Ready to Try Recreational Cannabis?

If you’re in one of the many states that have legalized both medical and recreational cannabis, you might find yourself wanting to visit a recreational cannabis dispensary. Remember to take it slow if you’re just starting out.

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