Lucy D.
  • February 20, 2022
  • 0 Comment

We have entered into an age where the cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing around the country, and not simply the recreational users, but the benefits of medical marijuana users as well. Colorado initially legalized weed in 2012, one of the first states in our society to authorize state-licensed retail sales. But it dates even further back, as, in 1975, Colorado became one of 10 states to decriminalize marijuana. 

The evolution of the Colorado laws has since blown wide open. In 2020, Amendment 20--referred to as the Medical Use of Marijuana Act--was passed, which legalized medical marijuana for patients suffering from conditions such as glaucoma, cancer, and seizures associated with epilepsy. A year ago, patients couldn't possess more than two ounces at a time and grow no more than six plants.

 Weed smoking in public wasn't allowed either. The marijuana legalization movement in Colorado has come a long way since 2012, morphing through numerous yearly changes with Governor Hickenlooper signing several bills into law.

In fact, in 2013, Proposition AA was unanimously passed by voters that allowed a proposed tax on the sale of recreational marijuana, which was intended to regulate the marijuana industry and focus more on educational campaigns.

Medical vs. Recreational Cannabis Potency

 Where does all this leave the Centennial State in terms of sales, regulations, and who can obtain which type of weed for their purposes?

The year 2014 was the onset of businesses selling recreational marijuana for the first time in Colorado. In the smaller areas of Frisco and Silverthorne, an estimated 500 customers lined up to purchase recreational marijuana. 

 The ski town of Breckenridge followed suit and claimed to have almost 1,500 people whip out their wallets the day legalization of recreational weed occurred. They even had a name for it--"Green Wednesday"--as the locals were more than willing to reap the benefits of the cannabis they had literally grown to love.

The potency of either recreational or medical marijuana is something that needs to be broken down for purposes of dosing requirements based on health needs and achieving that euphoric high that is so often sought after by Colorado residents.

How Potent is Medical Weed?

 It's no surprise that over 90 percent of medical marijuana contains the highest levels of THC. In the United States alone, the dispensed medical weed has leveled up to 15 percent. The dispensaries in Colorado offer some of the most potent doses, all due in part to the regulation, legalization, and demand. 

 For chronic pain relief, up to 5 percent of THC is sufficient to provide comfort without much of the psychoactive side effects. Concentrations of THC, which is the primary component in medical marijuana, can reach as high as 10 percent in some dispensaries. This can pose a problem for those patients who get so used to the weed potency that the risk increases versus mainly using it for pain relief. 

 Higher THC concentrations may be needed to achieve the intended chronic pain level, mainly as your body develops more tolerance to the effects. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is stepping in to ensure better regulation and creating a framework to help patients not become beyond addicted and instead reap the overall wellness benefits of medical marijuana.

The Potency of Recreational Cannabis

 It's important to note that recreational cannabis is derived from the hemp plant. Getting treatment for overdoing recreational weed for both children and adults can range in significant degrees of avoiding the high potency. We know that besides alcohol, marijuana is one of the top mind-altering drugs in society. 

Recreational marijuana can be ingested in several forms:

  • The flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the cannabis plant are ground up, mixed up, rolled up, and smoked as a joint.
  • Weed can be smoked through a bong or pipe.
  • It can be mixed in food--such as edibles--or added to your favorite beverage.
  • The most concentrated form of recreational marijuana is called hashish and is made from the tops of the female plants.
  • It can be added to a cigar casing called a blunt, one that is filled with marijuana.

 Remember that users can become highly addicted to recreational marijuana, and for this reason, the potency needs to be heavily watched. The grower's strength of cannabis today is much stronger than it ever was, and paying attention to addiction symptoms is necessary to pull back on heavy dosing.

Withdrawal symptoms are one of the main dependency symptoms to watch for, especially if you notice work, home, and the overall quality of an addict's life is impacted.

Price Differences Between Medical & Recreational Marijuana in Colorado

 It can be confusing when purchasing medical or recreational weed, as the THC contents vary dramatically, yet the price points may not have such a vast cost range. Also, both medical and recreational marijuana have programs available to educate the public on the best possible products on the market.

The medical weed patients have very high standards, no surprise as their needs are more viable given the illnesses and conditions that medical cannabis helps with and eases the pain.

The primary price differences are:

  • Patients must obtain a medical marijuana card.
  • Getting a referral from a physician alters the need, which changes the cost.
  • Colorado recreational consumers must be 21 years of age.
  • The paper trail for recreational consumers is virtually unable to be tracked.
  • Medical weed patients have a paper trail, as they have to present their marijuana card.
  • Marijuana growing laws in Colorado only allow cannabis patients to grow at home.
  • Medical cannabis patients may obtain more extended plant counts than recreational users.
  • Products in the medical weed industry don't have the same quality testing, dosage regulations, or labeling, which affects the overall cost of the final result brought to market.

The bottom line in pricing is it all comes down to marijuana taxes, regardless of the other differences between recreational and medical types. In Colorado, the marijuana tax for the state's medical patients is much less than the tax rate for recreational weed users. Ironically, the difference in recreational and medical marijuana can range between 10 percent to 30 percent. 

Because the medical industry gears towards an established diagnosis for its marijuana products, the taxes distort the resulting price points of the cannabis product.

Getting Your Red Card for Medical Cannabis

To visit a medical cannabis dispensary in Colorado, specifically in Denver, you must obtain a valid red card. Otherwise, you'll only be able to purchase recreational marijuana. The fee is $25 to process your application and is nonrefundable every time you buy a card. In essence, this is the legal, medical MJ card you need to visit a marijuana dispensary.

If you have a qualifying medical condition, getting a red card is relatively straightforward. You must first have a medical marijuana doctor who can diagnose your situation through a solid evaluation of your health and medical history. From that point, they can determine if medical weed will help your illness and proceed to give you an application to get your red card.

In Summary

The significant differences between medical and recreational marijuana lie in usage, tax regulations, overall accessibility, and potency. Once you've determined your reasons for wanting to dive into the cannabis industry in Colorado, you need to ask yourself if you're using it for alleviating specific medical ailments or you simply want to experience an exhilarating high. Either way, the potency will shift, the requirements will get more stringent, and in Colorado, the laws are everchanging with the continued strength of the weed industry as a whole. 

About the author

Lucy D.

Lucy D. of iBake is a Cannabis Industry activist and dedicated practitioner. She's the co-founder of iBake Denver 2.0, an online Medical Marijuana resource online for Colorado and beyond! Her love for great cooking mixed with her passion for Cannabis has provided Lucy with valuable knowledge & resources she willingly shares with all of us here. If you like weed-infused edible food products...Stay Tuned!

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