The Differences Between Medical and Recreational Cannabis in Colorado

The Differences Between Medical and Recreational Marijuana in Colorado

Posted on February 21st, 2024 to Blog by

What is the difference between medical and recreational cannabis in Colorado? We’re lucky enough to be in a state that offers both, and it may not seem like there is much of a difference between medical and recreational marijuana. However, there are a few major differences between the two that prospective patients or customers should know.

Shop the Top Medical Cannabis in Denver, CO

What Is Medical Cannabis in CO?

Medical cannabis is intended for therapeutic purposes and is available to individuals who have been authorized by a healthcare provider to use cannabis for medical conditions. To purchase medical cannabis, patients must visit a licensed physician to verify they have a qualifying condition and register with the state’s medical marijuana program.

What Is Recreational Cannabis in CO?

Recreational cannabis, also known as adult-use cannabis, is intended for recreational purposes and is available to individuals aged 21 and older without the need for a medical recommendation. Recreational cannabis dispensaries sell cannabis products to the public, but consumers must provide valid identification proving they are of legal age.

Differences Between Medical and Recreational Cannabis in Denver

Intended Use

The most obvious difference between medical and recreational cannabis is its intended use. Recreational marijuana products are focused more on recreational effects like euphoria and creativity. By contrast, medical cannabis products are therapeutically focused or formulated to support patients with certain conditions or ailments. Additionally, medical dispensaries may offer added support, such as personalized consultations and dosage recommendations.

Product Differences

Medical cannabis dispensaries typically offer a more diverse range of products. For example, you may see a lot of products on our medical menu at AMCH that boast specific minor cannabinoids known to target certain ailments. Or, you may find products that are lower in THC and higher in non-intoxicating cannabinoids like CBG (cannabigerol) and CBC (cannabichromene). By contrast, products from the recreational menu may be more THC-focused.


For recreational cannabis, there is a 15 percent excise tax on the average market rate of retail cannabis, in addition to a 15 percent retail marijuana sales tax. Medical cannabis, on the other hand, is not subject to the same level of taxation, with only a 2.9 percent state sales tax applied. Local tax rates can also apply. For example, Denver charges an added tax on both medical and recreational weed sales. In any case, medical cannabis is subject to lower taxes and lower end costs.

Legal Age to Purchase

For medical cannabis, you must be 18 years or older to apply for a medical marijuana card and purchase products from licensed medical dispensaries. Conversely, for recreational cannabis, individuals must be 21 years or older to purchase products from licensed recreational dispensaries.

Where You Can Shop

Medical cannabis cardholders can shop at medical dispensaries, but also recreational dispensaries if they are 21 or older. Having access to both menus as an adult medical marijuana patient gives you access to both types of menus and a broader range of choices. Recreational customers without a medical card can only shop at recreational dispensaries.

The Differences Between Medical and Recreational Cannabis in Colorado

Shop Both Medical and Recreational Menus at AMCH Denver

AMCH offers both medical and recreational menus to make sure both types of customers are well-served. Each menu is carefully created by pulling together the best products from both markets in Colorado. Have questions about becoming a cannabis patient or how to track down the best products for you? We welcome all questions at AMCH and will be happy to offer advice.

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