Recreational vs. Medical Marijuana in Washington State

How is recreational marijuana different from medical marijuana in Washington state?

If it’s legal to purchase recreational marijuana without a doctor’s appointment, then why go through the hassle of obtaining a medical marijuana card?

The differences might seem miniscule at first, but the more you learn about medical marijuana, the more you may realize that there are benefits to being a qualified patient.

What Qualifies as Medical Marijuana in Washington State?

First off, the marijuana plant contains over 100 plant-based compounds. These are known as cannabinoids, and include the compounds of THC and CBD.

For the medicinal effect, most patients use the buds of the plant (i.e. flower) or concentrates of only certain cannabinoids found within the plant.

Washington State Cannabis

The two most well-known cannabinoids found in medical (and recreational) marijuana are:

  1. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). When you think of the “high” associated with marijuana, this is the chemical that produces it. THC is often used as an adjunct treatment for chronic pain, and some studies show it can assist in the management of mental disorders such as PTSD. THC is a psychoactive compound, and is widely used recreationally.
  2. CBD (Cannabidiol). Rising in popularity, CBD is used in topical ointments for joint pain and inflammation, and studies show that it can help lessen seizures among children, adults, and animals. The CBD cannabinoid carries no psychoactive effects.

Medical vs. Recreational Cannabis

Medical marijuana has a much higher CBD content to help provide relief from pain and symptoms caused by serious medical conditions. However, because CBD has no psychoactive effect, the euphoria or “high” that is commonly associated with recreational marijuana is often not present.

Compare this to recreational marijuana, which focuses more on THC rather than CBD. 

Recreational marijuana is used without medical justification (federally), so recreational users typically want to experience the “high” or euphoria that is associated with THC content.

In short, THC gives you a high, whereas CBD doesn’t have that impact.

Medicinal marijuana focuses more on CBD because there are fewer side effects and patients don’t necessarily feel like they are “on” something, like they may feel when taking opioids.

Of course, this does not mean that medical marijuana is low on THC or doesn’t have any THC. Rather, this just means that CBD can have more of a focus when it comes to medicinal marijuana.

Cannabinoids & Their Differences

The levels of certain cannabinoids can vary from strain to strain. In general, Indica can have more CBD whereas Sativa can contain more THC.

Some patients who use Indica have reported anxiety relief as well as pain relief. Though recreational and medicinal users can obtain both Indica and Sativa cannabis flower or products, the choice is fully a personal preference. 

What Can Medical Marijuana Be Used For?

Just like in other “legal” states, medical marijuana in Washington state carries a variety of uses. Several scientific studies suggest that when properly dosed and administered, medical marijuana can reduce chronic pain, vomiting, and nausea (especially nausea associated with chemotherapy).

Many conditions can cause nerve pain and nerve damage. Studies suggest that smoking pot can help patients with spinal cord injuries, AIDS, and diabetes, and can sometimes alleviate nerve pain.

The CBD content in medical marijuana can also help tight, tense muscles to relax. Multiple sclerosis can cause tight muscles, so many patients suffering from MS may find relief from medical marijuana that has a higher level of CBD content.

A study conducted by St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa discovered that there was a significant difference between the placebo and people taking medical marijuana for nausea. Nausea, especially as a result from chemotherapy, has been reduced through medical cannabis. Users have also described how it helps their appetite.

Some qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include:

  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • And any condition that causes similar debilitation or impact on quality of life

This is why it’s so important to find a medical marijuana doctor in Washington state. Only a physician specifically licensed to recommend medical marijuana can assist you in receiving a medical marijuana card.

Even if your specific condition isn’t listed above, your medical marijuana doctor can use his or her discretion to determine whether you’d be a good candidate for medical cannabis.

How to Find a Trusted Medical Marijuana Doctor and Dispensary

Green Wellness has four locations throughout the state of Washington. With offices in Lynnwood, Olympia, Vancouver, and Spokane Valley, you can easily find a medical marijuana doctor close to you.

Each physician specializes in Naturopathic and Alternative medicine. Because this is their specialty, Green Wellness closely monitors and abides by the latest state and federal guidelines for medical marijuana use and issue.

Furthermore, Green Wellness will guide you through the process to make it as stress free and streamlined as possible.

Rather than focusing on one specific problem, Naturopathic Doctors and clinics focus on your entire wellbeing. By providing complete care of the patient and by addressing the spiritual, emotional, and metaphysical aspects of your health, you can improve quality of life without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. 

In other words, naturopathic medicine gets to the root of the problem, rather than simply treating the symptoms of the problem.

It’s a holistic approach that even considers how diet and daily habits contribute to your overall health.

This complete understanding can help to reduce medical costs, alleviate pain, and ultimately, assist you in better managing your health!

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