Differences Between Medical and Recreational Prices

cash with bud on top

With marijuana legalization spreading throughout the nation, many consumers are trying to understand the difference between medical and recreational marijuana. Does the actual quality of the cannabis products vary? Does medical marijuana cost more or less than recreational marijuana? Is there still a purpose for medical marijuana programs if a state legalizes cannabis on a recreational level? All of these questions are valid ones to have, especially in newly legalized markets.

To start, let’s take a look at how much medical marijuana costs compared to recreational marijuana prices

Are Medical and Recreational Marijuana Products That Different?

woman separating marijuana

In states with both medical and recreational programs, it's common for consumers to question the difference between the two. While some may think medical marijuana patients are getting the best possible products on the market, that’s not quite the case. The quality standards for both recreational and medical marijuana are the same for both programs. Granted, medical patients tend to set their standards a bit higher than recreational consumers, and a lot of that comes from the fact that medical patients tend to be slightly more knowledgeable on marijuana. Nevertheless, marijuana products for both patients and consumers should never see a drastic difference in the quality of the product.

Regulations May Differ

It is common for medical marijuana shops to tailor product selections to fit their patients' needs. Whether it be carrying more THC: CBD ratioed products or a more extensive range of edibles, medical marijuana dispensaries typically base their menu to ensure their patients have the products necessary to provide them with their desired method of consumption. In some states, recreational dispensaries are not allowed to carry edibles with a dosage over a certain amount.

Take Colorado for instance; recreational shops may only sell edibles at 100mg of THC or less, while medical dispensaries in Colorado can sell edibles as high as 1000mg of THC. Regulations like this are in place to ensure medical patients can obtain the correct products for their medical conditions. Keep in mind; medical marijuana patients must receive a medical marijuana card from a physician to qualify for medical cannabis.

The Differences Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana

green bud

While the primary difference between medical and recreational cannabis is the fact that patients must obtain a medical marijuana card, there are other minor differences. In particular, some states allow for people of any age to obtain a medical marijuana card if they have a referral from a physician. Recreational consumers, regardless of the state, must all be 21 or older to purchase legal marijuana.

Other Differences in Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana

  • There is no method of tracking consumers’ purchases on the recreational side. In other words, there is no paper trail for recreational consumers. Medical consumers have a paper trail with their purchases since they must sign in with their medical card before shopping.
  • Purchasing limits for medical marijuana patients tend to be higher than recreational consumers in most states.
  • Some marijuana growing laws only allow patients in the medical marijuana program to grow cannabis at home.
  • In legal states with both recreational and medical cannabis, medical patients may obtain extended plant counts to allow them to grow a more significant number of plants at home than recreational consumers.
  • Depending on the legal state a consumer resides, medical marijuana products do not always have the same labeling, quality testing, or dosage regulations as recreational products. Some states require more testing for medical products, while others put more regulations on recreational products.

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Prices May Vary Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana

The differences laid out above are all things to consider when discussing medical vs recreational marijuana, but the one difference most people notice is pricing. Why is there a difference between medical and recreational marijuana prices? Well, it all comes down to the marijuana taxes. In every legal state, the marijuana tax for medical patients is far lower than the tax rate for recreational consumers. In some cases, the difference is as high as 10% to 30%.

The tax rate for medical marijuana products is lower because these patients have been approved to use medical cannabis for an established diagnosis. Since insurance companies do not provide any assistance to medical patients for cannabis; the state does its best to help out by keeping the tax rates lower or nonexistent. The overall price of marijuana products is relatively similar, regardless of medical vs recreational. It is the marijuana taxes that skew the final price points.

Prices of Medical and Recreational Marijuana in States with Full Legalization

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The prices of cannabis vary quite a bit per state. In turn, the prices of medical and recreational cannabis vary drastically per state. Plus, every state approves different marijuana tax rates. Take a look at this list of legal states to see how much medical marijuana costs compared to recreational marijuana!

Alaska

Average Price Per Ounce of Marijuana: $298.00 / Top-Shelf Ounce

Medical State Sales Tax Rate: 0%

Recreational State Sales Tax Rate: 0%

California

Average Price Per Ounce of Marijuana: $256.60 / Top-Shelf Ounce

Medical State Sales Tax Rate: 0%

Recreational State Sales Tax Rate: 7.25% + Local Tax Rates

Colorado

Average Price Per Ounce of Marijuana: $241.90 / Top-Shelf Ounce

Medical State Sales Tax Rate: 2.9% + Local Tax Rates

Recreational State Sales Tax Rate: 15% + Local Tax Rates (up to 8%)

Massachusetts

Average Price Per Ounce of Marijuana: $341.00 / Top-Shelf Ounce

Medical State Sales Tax Rate: 0%

Recreational State Sales Tax Rate: 6.25% + Local Tax Rates

Nevada

Average Price Per Ounce of Marijuana: $270.50 / Top-Shelf Ounce

Medical State Sales Tax Rate: 8.25%

Recreational State Sales Tax Rate: 18.25% + Local Tax Rates

Oregon

Average Price Per Ounce of Marijuana: $210.60 / Top-Shelf Ounce

Medical State Sales Tax Rate: 0%

Recreational State Sales Tax Rate: 17% + Local Tax Rates (up to 3%)

Washington

Average Price Per Ounce of Marijuana: $233.10 / Top-Shelf Ounce

Medical State Sales Tax Rate: 0%

Recreational State Sales Tax Rate: 37%

Conclusion

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The above list is a good starting point for determining how much does medical marijuana cost in your state. Many states with both recreational and medical marijuana try to keep the medical marijuana sales tax down as much as possible. It is even common for states to stop charging sales tax to medical marijuana patients, once recreational legalization is in place. Many other factors go into the overall prices of medical and recreational marijuana taxes.

Most states charge an excise marijuana tax on the initial point of sale from cultivators to manufacturers or dispensaries. These taxes are usually built into the original price of marijuana products before they hit the shelf. While the above numbers are relatively current, tax rates are constantly changing and depend on the other tax rates enacted by local communities. Over time, these marijuana statistics will hopefully become readily available to the average consumer!

For the best cannabis deals on recreational and medical marijuana, head to the Leafbuyer deals page!