Difference Between Medical and Recreational Cannabis

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Medical and Recreational Cannabis

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the annual rate of marijuana consumption of both recreational and medicinal is approximately 147 million individuals or nearly 2.5% of the global population. Recreational marijuana has a larger percentage of THC which is an active ingredient that is responsible for some therapeutic effects as well as its euphoric effects. Medical marijuana differs in that the THC component is low but there is a higher CBD component which is responsible for its therapeutic effects but also counteracts the euphoric effects of THC.

Typically THC recreational strains have about 40% THC and can be as high as 70% THC but because CBD counteracts the euphoric effects of THC recreational marijuana strains are bred so that they do not contain any CBD components.

Uses of Medical Cannabis

There are Various treatments Medical Cannabis can be used for. Some examples are:

  • Pain and inflammation
  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Insomnia

Depending on the condition being treated there will be a different ratio between CBD and THC. For example THC is associated with a higher level of anxiety. As such to treat anxiety we want no THC and about 18 to 20% levels of CBD.

For insomnia THC help more in regards to sedation. So we want a higher level of THC but we also want some of the therapeutic effects of CBD. So a 1:1 formulation such as 10:10 strain would be more appropriate. If you need an evaluation for medical marijuana you can try the natural health services in Edmonton.

Forms of Medical Cannabis

Note that smoking of Cannabis is not recommended as the link between smoking and cancer as well as other lung diseases are still being investigated.


Vaping is done with dry cannabis where it is heated to create an aerosol which in inhaled. The benefits of vaping is that it provides immediate relief but the downside to its use is that it only provides relief for a couple of hours.


Use of the oil is beneficial in that it is easier to dose as you are able to easily measure how much you need. It can take one to two hours to take effect but its effects can last for 6 to 8 hours. Some patients may not like the taste as its base is often sunflower oil.


Edibles offer ease of accessibility for most patients as it is easy to digest and helps with palatablity. However, it is harder to dose in terms of use. Their effects do not work right away but last longer similar to using an oil.


Using a cream is beneficial in that you can use it directly to the area of inflammation and pain. Furthermore, because you have not ingested the cannabis it will not enter your bloodstream and give you the usual side effects that you can experience with medical cannabis such as anxiety, sedation and cognitive clouding.

Cannabis and Pharmacy

It is important to include your pharmacist in the discussion of your use of medical cannabis. At the pharmacy we want to be able to manage your treatment whether you are using cannabis or medications. For example cannabis in some situations can make anxiety worse and if you are already on medication to help manage your anxiety we can help you pick out a strain that is less likely to worsen your anxiety.

Furthermore Medical Cannabis has an important role to play in Alberta with Chronic pain especially considering our ongoing opioid crisis. Medical Cannabis is considered Opioid sparing in that patients who are using opioids have found with the use of Medical Cannabis they needs lower doses of Opioid. Pharmacists can play important role in monitoring for Chronic pain and the use of opioids as well as medical cannabis facilitating dose changes with the patient’s physician as needed.

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