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What is the Difference Between Medical and Recreational Cannabis Use?

What is the Difference Between Medical and Recreational Cannabis Use?

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We hear the terms ‘recreational marijuana’ or ‘recreational Cannabis’ just as much these days as we do ‘medical marijuana’ and ‘medical Cannabis’.

This makes many people wonder what the difference is between the two.
Are they different strains or how exactly recreational Cannabis’ is different to medical Cannabis?

Fortunately, there is a very easy answer to that question. There is absolutely no difference between the two.

As Cannabis is becoming more accepted around the world, as part of the developing culture, the terminology is developing along with it. Recreational Cannabis is a term that does not sit well with most Cannabis activist and for good reasons.

According to Deb Lynch, the Secretary of the Medical Cannabis Users Association of Australia, the term ‘recreational’ is part of the government propaganda to stigmatize Cannabis. To imply that Cannabis is used for recreation, while there is a lot more to its use than recreation.

American singer and activist, Melissa Etheridge was quoted in 2015 saying that

“It needs to be legalized across the board. Who draws the line of what’s medicinal? If a hardworking person comes home and they want to enjoy cannabis, who’s to say that it’s not medicine? It helps in many medicinal ways.”

Victorian MP in Australia, Fiona Patten is also of the same opinion, as she is often quoted saying “My colleagues might have 6 beers after work, I might have a joint after work.”

High profile Cannabis activist, Steve DeAngelo prefers to use the term ‘adult-use’ Cannabis, instead of recreational Cannabis as in his view, the term ‘recreational’ does not fully represent all the benefits users gain from Cannabis.

There is no such a thing as recreational Cannabis use as every cannabis use is medicinal on some level. Every user self-medicates consciously or subconsciously. Responsible use is a whole other topic, however, even users that use more than they need are believed to be self-medicating.

The benefits gained from using Cannabis is so far beyond recreation that the term does not do any good for the Cannabis cause.

This is along the same line as that famous American astronomer, Carl Sagan was thinking when he was writing the below.

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

Consuming cannabis after a hard and perhaps stressful day at work is considered to be ‘recreational’, while it is scientifically proven to help with relaxing the body and mind, be more present with the family and loved ones, sleep better and rejuvenate more efficiently.

Why would we wait until cancer is developed, have a nervous breakdown or depression, for example, to use Cannabis in high doses curatively, while it could be used in smaller doses preventatively?

Steve DeAngelo believes that Cannabis should be referred to as a ‘wellness product’ and adult-use is a lot better term than recreational use.

Medical cannabis

We are guilty of using the term ‘recreational’ here at greendorphin.com as well. Although we would like to stay away from it where possible, it is still the term that is used by the mainstream media and most people associate with adult-use.

It is somewhat similar to ‘marijuana’ which we all know is not right to use, but we still use it here and there.

Prohibition’s godfather, Harry Anslinger made use of the term ‘marijuana’ to create false differentiation from Cannabis that was used and well known as a medicine at the time.

Apparently, the Marijuana Tax Act, that effectively made it impossible to cultivate Cannabis in the US was not opposed by farmers, nor medical professionals as they did not know that Marijuana was the same plant as Cannabis.

Today, many consider the term marijuana to be racist due to its association with Anslinger, who held racist views and was quoted saying:

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage.”

Today, marijuana is the most common term for Cannabis in the United States, largely due to Anslinger’s deep reaching efforts to demonize the Cannabis plant.

Adult-use Cannabis seems to be the best term to describe Cannabis use for other than curative medical use, that falls under ‘medical Cannabis’ use.

It is up to the Cannabis community and users to make sure they get their terminology right so terms that help the cause are used over derogatory ones.


What’re your thoughts on medical and recreational cannabis? 

Share your views in the comments below.