- The distinction between the two markets causes more harm than good for the cannabis industry and community
- Monetary incentive poses a threat to the quality, price, and customer service within the recreational market
- Recreational cannabis use goes beyond “getting high”
While safe, legal access to cannabis for Americans is becoming more prevalent. It’s unfortunate that its implementation has been divided into two very distinct categories: medical and recreational cannabis. These designations are used to legally define the reason for use of cannabis. Unfortunately, the words have more than just their bureaucratic meaning to most of the cannabis industry. To better explain this distinction, we will yield to the grandfather of legal cannabis, Steve DeAngelo:
“Since the passage of legalization in Colorado and Washington, the term ‘recreational use’ has become the catchall phrase to describe all consumption of cannabis that is not ‘medical.’ Lacking any commonly accepted definition, ‘recreational use’ has in effect become a code word to describe ‘just getting high’—or intoxication. This is unfortunate, because the phrase just obscures more than it illuminates, and it perpetuates misconceptions about cannabis that have kept it illegal for decades.”
This understanding of recreational cannabis use is problematic because it assumes that people can only use cannabis for one of two reasons – as a medicine for chronic illness or as an intoxicant. When in fact, cannabis provides a myriad of unique benefits that are mistakenly characterized as “getting high.” Steve goes on to explain:
“These [benefits] include [the] ability to extend patience and promote self-examination; to awaken a sense of wonder and playfulness, and openness to spiritual experience; to enhance the flavor of meal, the sound of music, or the sensitivity of a lover’s touch; to open the mind and inspire creativity; to bring poetry to language and spontaneity to a performer; to catalyze laughter, facilitate friendship, and bridge human differences.”
Generally, medical and recreational use specifications do not describe the above benefits—and these truly are the reasons most people use cannabis. Defining cannabis use as purely “recreational” furthers the negative stigma surrounding its consumption and undermines the tangible benefits provided by the plant. However, beyond the semantics of the two options, there are a few things you should know about the differences between medical and recreational.