Medical vs Recreational Marijuana in Colorado

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While many people know Colorado for its incredible mountains, canyons, and rivers, it’s also become one of the biggest global hotspots for cannabis. Colorado was one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012 and it’s now easier than ever for adults to get their hands on high-quality cannabis. When it comes to medical vs recreational marijuana in Colorado, you might wonder which is better.

Colorado medical marijuana is available to patients aged 18 or over who obtain a medical marijuana card. Patients must have one of the qualifying conditions set by the state, which includes a range of severe and debilitating physical and mental ailments. The process can be costly, especially as you’ll need to see a qualified physician in addition to paying an application fee.

In contrast, anyone aged 21 or over can visit an adult-use marijuana dispensary and buy a range of cannabis products for all purposes. Whether you’re trying to tackle a nagging symptom or simply want to enjoy the recreational perks of weed, you can find a variety of strains, edibles, tinctures, and other top products. You can even order cannabis online in Colorado.

While recreational marijuana is the best choice for most users, there are a few things to consider. Here’s a guide to medical vs recreational marijuana in Colorado.

Who Can Buy Recreational Marijuana In Colorado?

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use for adults in November 2012. You can now find legal dispensaries across the state offering a range of cannabis products for both therapeutic and recreational purposes. However, there are still some limitations as to who can buy marijuana, how much you can buy, and where you can use it.

To buy marijuana from an adult-use dispensary in Colorado, you must be aged 21 or over. Dispensaries check each customer’s age so you must show valid proof of identification before you enter, such as a driver’s license or state ID card. Even if you order marijuana online, you must provide proof of identification before you can collect your products.

There are also buying limits. Recreational users can buy and possess up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana flower from licensed retail stores. You can privately possess up to 2 ounces, but must not carry over 1 ounce in public. You can give or receive up to 2 ounces of marijuana but must not give or accept marijuana from anyone under 21.

Public use of marijuana is still illegal and, as such, it’s best to use marijuana in a private place such as your home or a friend’s house. As long as you follow state laws you shouldn’t run into any issues buying and using marijuana for recreational purposes. You can read more about Colorado marijuana laws on the Colorado Cannabis website.

Who Can Buy Medical Marijuana In Colorado?

Although anyone aged 21 or over can buy marijuana from recreational dispensaries in Colorado, medical cards aren’t available to everyone. If you want to buy marijuana from a medical dispensary, you’ll need to obtain a medical marijuana card. Colorado medical cards are available to patients with a qualifying condition set by the state.

The current list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Colorado is as follows:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Cachexia
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe pain
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • An Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Any condition for which a physician could prescribe an opioid

To apply for a medical card, you must be a Colorado resident aged 18 or over. You’ll also need to see a doctor to obtain a certification. Minors can still obtain a medical card if their parent or primary caregiver consents. Applicants aged under 21 need to see two providers and provide two certifications.

The process of getting a medical card in Colorado can be time-consuming and, as such, some users aged 21 or over may prefer to simply buy from recreational dispensaries. However, those with qualifying conditions may wish to get a medical card as it gives them access to certain perks. Users aged under 21 must get a medical card to buy marijuana.

How To Get A Medical Marijuana Card In Colorado

How To Get A Medical Marijuana Card In Colorado

If you have a qualifying condition, you may wish to get a Colorado medical marijuana card. This allows you to buy marijuana from medical dispensaries across the state. It also gives you certain benefits, such as reduced taxes on marijuana purchases. With that said, you’ll need to go through a few steps to obtain your medical card.

You can apply for a Colorado medical marijuana card online via the Colorado government website. However, you must first obtain a provider certification from a qualified physician in the state. You might want to visit your primary healthcare provider or book an appointment with a Colorado medical marijuana doctor.

During your appointment, your doctor will assess your health and examine your medical history to determine whether you have a qualifying condition. If you qualify for medical marijuana, they’ll write a provider certification for you and submit it electronically. Applications under 21 will need to see two providers and gain two certifications.

After being approved by a doctor, you can continue your application online. You’ll need to provide some personal details in addition to your provider certification. You’ll also need to pay an application fee of $29.50. Keep in mind that you’ll need to renew your application with a new certification each year.

Applications with correct details should be approved within 1-3 business days. You’ll then receive further information, along with a printable card, via email. You can also process your application via mail. However, mailed applications can take 6-8 weeks to be approved and you’ll need to wait to receive your card in the mail.

Is Medical Marijuana Cheaper In Colorado?

Although buying recreational marijuana is easier in Colorado, getting a medical card has certain benefits. For instance, medical marijuana patients can buy marijuana products without added taxes. As such, they often get significantly reduced rates when buying products from medical dispensaries.

Marijuana sold in stores is subject to a 2.9% state sales tax. Recreational marijuana is also subject to a 15% state retail marijuana sales tax as well as a 15% retail marijuana excise tax on wholesale sales and transfers of marijuana products. In contrast, medical marijuana is only subject to the 2.9% state sales tax. 

With significantly lower taxes, medical marijuana users can enjoy much cheaper marijuana products. Medical marijuana patients can also buy marijuana in higher quantities than recreational users. Regular adult users are limited to 1 ounce of marijuana flower (or its equivalent in other forms) whereas medical users can buy up to 2 ounces.

Although medical users can buy cheaper products, it’s worth considering that they must also pay to obtain their medical card. In addition to a doctor’s appointment, they must pay a $29.50 application fee. They also need to repeat this process each year they wish to renew their medical marijuana card. Fortunately, this is often a small cost compared to the savings they can make if they buy marijuana regularly.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that recreational marijuana is expensive. Many recreational dispensaries offer excellent deals on all kinds of products. Regular dispensary customers can often also benefit from customer loyalty programs, giving them further savings on their marijuana purchases.

Buying Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana In Colorado

Marijuana buyers might wonder which is better when it comes to recreational marijuana vs. medical marijuana. Generally, the same products are available to both medical and recreational users. As such, you won’t get lesser quality products simply because you don’t have a medical card. However, there are a few pros and cons for both recreational and medical marijuana buyers.

Buying recreational marijuana is the most convenient option for most marijuana consumers. As long as you’re aged 21 or over, you can easily enter a marijuana store, browse products at your leisure, and take them home the same day. Although you can only buy an ounce of marijuana at a time, you can visit recreational dispensaries as much as you please.

To buy medical marijuana, you’ll first need to be approved by a qualified physician and apply for your medical card. You can then buy a range of products from medical marijuana dispensaries. Although these products will be the same quality as recreational marijuana stores, you can buy up to 2 ounces at a time. What’s more, products are much cheaper for medical marijuana users due to lower taxes.

Medical marijuana users will need to renew their card each year and may find the process of booking doctor’s appointments and submitting their applications inconvenient. Fortunately, you can still buy marijuana from recreational stores for therapeutic purposes even if you don’t currently have a medical card.

Growing Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana In Colorado

Growing Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana In Colorado

Buying marijuana isn’t the only option for Colorado cannabis users. You can also legally grow marijuana yourself. You’ll need to ensure you have a suitable private place to grow cannabis – such as an indoor growing room or growing closet. Different laws also apply to different users.

Generally, Colorado residents aged 21 or over can grow up to six plants at home, with up to three plants flowering at one time. However, counties and municipalities within Colorado can set stricter laws. For example, Denver limits each home to 12 plants, even if there are 3 or more residents.

If you live with children or anyone aged under 21, you must ensure they can’t access your marijuana grow area. You also can’t sell the products you grow to anyone. However, you can enjoy the plants you grow for personal use or gift them to friends and family.

Growing laws are slightly more lenient for medical marijuana users in Colorado. For instance, some patients can grow more than six plants if they receive a doctor’s recommendation. However, medical patients must still grow their plants in a private, secure area and ensure that they can’t be accessed by minors.

Where To Buy Medical Marijuana In Colorado

Those with a medical marijuana card in Colorado can buy marijuana from dispensaries throughout the state. You can find medical dispensaries in many towns and cities offering a range of products to suit your medical needs. You’ll need to provide proof of identification in addition to your medical card, but you can then buy these products at great prices.

Although products at medical dispensaries are often the same as those sold in recreational marijuana stores, they aren’t subject to the same taxes. As such, medical marijuana users can get the products they need for their symptoms at much lower prices.

However, medical marijuana users aren’t limited to medical dispensaries. As long as you’re aged 21 or over, you can also buy marijuana products from any recreational marijuana dispensary or store. Recreational dispensaries often have enticing deals and loyalty programs for customers and, as such, you might prefer to buy from these locations.

Where To Buy Recreational Marijuana In Colorado

Any adult aged 21 or over can buy cannabis products from a licensed marijuana store or recreational dispensary. As long as you can provide proof of identification, you can buy up to an ounce of marijuana products.

While there are now tons of marijuana stores throughout Colorado, it’s best to find one that offers high-quality products, great prices, and enticing benefits for customers. For instance, those in the Breckenridge area should check out The Dispensary Breckenridge.

The Dispensary offers an impressive selection of premium cannabis strains. Customers can also find a range of concentrates, edibles, topicals, vape products, and plenty more. Not only will you find great prices on these products, but you can also benefit from special deals and a generous customer loyalty program.


Colorado is one of the best places for marijuana lovers with a range of medical and recreational dispensaries throughout the state. Although getting a medical card gives you access to certain perks, anyone aged 21 or over can easily find the products they need from a high-quality recreational cannabis dispensary.

Whether you’re looking for a top-notch recreational strain or something to soothe your symptoms, you can find what you need at The Dispensary Breckenridge. You can also find The Dispensary branches in Colorado Springs North, Crested Butte, Dillon, Gunnison, and Littleton.

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