Technically, nothing. The marijuana plant and products used to treat medical conditions or those used for recreational purposes are the same. The primary distinction between recreational and medical marijuana lies in the purpose for which they are used.

Here are the key differences:

  • Purpose:
    • Recreational marijuana, also referred to as adult use, is used for personal enjoyment, relaxation, and social purposes. 
    • Medical marijuana is used to provide relief for specific medical conditions and alleviate symptoms like chronic pain, nausea, muscle spasms, and restlessness.
  • Legal Status:
    • Recreational Marijuana: New Jersey allows for the legal sale and use of cannabis and cannabis products for residents 21 years and older at any of the New Jersey licensed adult use cannabis dispensaries.
    • Medical Marijuana: New Jersey allows for New Jersey residents, diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a New Jersey health care practitioner registered with the New Jersey Medicinal Cannabis Program and who also  maintain a bona fide relationship with a health care provider who is registered with the program, to purchase cannabis and cannabis products at any of the New Jersey licensed Alternative Treatment Centers. There are no age limits for medical patients; however, patients under 18 years old must have their parents or legal guardians apply for the medical card on their behalf.

      Approved qualifying medical conditions include:
      • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
      • Anxiety
      • Cancer
      • Chronic pain
      • Dysmenorrhea
      • Glaucoma
      • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
      • Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
      • Migraine
      • Multiple sclerosis
      • Muscular dystrophy
      • Opioid Use Disorder
      • Positive status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
      • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
      • Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
      • Terminal illness with prognosis of less than 12 months to live
      • Tourette Syndrome
  • Taxation:
    • Recreational Marijuana: All transactions are subject to New Jersey sales tax of 6.625% plus a local tax of up to 2%. Revenue generated from these taxes may be allocated to various public programs or services. A portion of the cannabis taxed collected in New Jersey are  earmarked for disbursement to communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.
    • Medical Marijuana: In New Jersey, medical cannabis is no longer subject to Sales Tax in New Jersey as of July 1, 2022.


Cannabis provides therapeutic value for a wide array of conditions, symptoms, or illnesses. 

Pain Management: Often used to soothe acute aches and pains and alleviate chronic pain, including pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, neuropathy, and cancer. 

Dronabinol is a synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (‘THC’) medication approved by the FDA, currently being studied as an adjunctive to reduce opioid consumption in patients with acute pain following traumatic injury. 

Nausea and Vomiting: Helpful for individuals undergoing chemotherapy or experiencing nausea and vomiting associated with certain medical treatments. 

Marinol (dronabinol) is synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (‘THC’), which obtained FDA approval in 1985 for the treatment of HIV/AIDs-induced anorexia and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. 

Appetite Stimulation: Assists in stimulating appetite in patients with conditions like HIV/AIDS or cancer, where appetite loss is a common symptom. 

Syndros (dronabinol) is a liquid cannabinoid made from synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (‘THC’) that is approved by the FDA to treat nausea and vomiting caused by anti-cancer medicine (chemotherapy) and loss of appetite (anorexia) in people with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) who have lost weight.

Muscle Spasms and Spasticity: It has been found to be beneficial in reducing muscle spasms and spasticity in conditions like multiple sclerosis. 

In the UK, Sativex (nabiximols) is the first cannabis-based medicine to be licensed and  prescribed for the treatment of MS-related spasticity. It is composed of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Seizure Disorders: Cannabis strains particularly those high in CBD, have shown promise in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures in certain epilepsy syndromes. 

Epidolex is the first FDA-approved drug that contains a purified CBD derived from marijuana.  

Anxiety and PTSD: Cannabis use for PTSD symptomatology like sleep quality and duration along with intrusiveness, avoidance, and alertness have all shown improvement. 

Currently, the NIH is studying an FDA approved synthetic analogue of THC, Nabilone, which similarly showed enhanced sleep, reduced nightmares and diminished other PTSD symptoms among patients. 

Inflammation: Cannabinoids in marijuana have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial in conditions characterized by inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Neurological Disorders: Some studies suggest that medical marijuana may have neuroprotective properties and could potentially be used in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Glaucoma: Cannabis can help lower intraocular pressure, making it a potential aid for glaucoma, although other more specific medications are often preferred.

It can be hard for many to believe that one substance can be effective for so many indications ,but there is a scientific reason that cannabis has such a wide therapeutic benefit. All animals except for insects have an endogenous (made within the body) cannabinoid system, or endocannabinoid system (ECS).  Humans produce the cannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl glycerol). Our endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body– in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells – and have a singular goal, to maintain homeostasis. Meaning the endocannabinoids job is to regulate several bodily functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, learning, memory, body temperature, pain, immune functions and fertility, to maintain internal stability while adjusting to changing external conditions.

The plethora of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and sterols in the cannabis plant working throughout the body on the numerous endocannabinoid receptors makes cannabis a versatile therapeutic agent.



Whether you are a seasoned consumer or new to the game it can happen – that moment you realize you consumed too much. THC overconsumption is not uncommon, especially with the growing popularity of high-potency cannabis strains. There is no shame in it. There is also no need to panic. 

Just keep in mind you can’t blaze yourself to death, but your body could be miserable if you consume without caution. Let’s look at the most common symptoms of an uncomfortable high and learn  how to manage them. Remember, if symptoms become unmanageable at home, seek medical care. 

  • Munchies
      • Why it happens:  THC increases appetite by activating CB1 receptors in the stomach and brain. In the stomach, it increases your levels of ghrelin, or the hunger hormone, thus increasing your appetite. In the brain, it activates proopiomelanocortin neurons (POMCs) secondary pathway which is tied to appetite stimulation. 
      • Ways to Prevent: Strains higher in CBD help temper the effects of THC and could help you keep the late-night munchies at bay. Strains higher in THCV also can reduce the chance of munchies, as THCV has the ability to block the reward sensation in the brain that triggers overeating. 
      • Ways to Manage: Control the foods you eat by placing healthier snacks around so you choose them first. Distract yourself by listening to music, going for a walk, or doing another form of exercise you enjoy. Drink plenty of water to fill up your stomach and keep your body hydrated.
  • Short Term Memory Loss 
      • Why it happens: THC changes the way the hippocampus processes information, which can affect the ability to form new memories. This change in information processing can also lead to poor judgment
      • Ways to Prevent: Don’t over consume, Use cannabis strains higher in Pinene and CBD for their neuroprotective benefit
  • Slow Reaction Time
      • Why it happens: Changes in the cerebellum and basal ganglia cause alteration in  balance, coordination, and reflex response. This can affect the ability to drive.
      • Ways to Prevent: Don’t over consume. “Low & Slow” 
  • Dry Mouth
      • Why it happens: Inhaling smoke of any kind dries out the nasal passages which are connected to the eyes causing the surface of the eyes to dry out
      • Ways to Prevent: Hydrate, use cannabis forms other than smoking
      • Ways to Manage: Try Artificial Saliva, available over the counter from most pharmacies.
  • Dry Eyes
      • Why it happens: Cannabis molecules bind to the CB1 & CB2 receptors in the eye and saliva glands which then causes a decrease in saliva and tear production.
      • Ways to Manage: Use Artificial Tears or Saliva
  • Red Eyes
      • Why it happens: Cannabis causes an expansion of blood vessels and the increase of blood flow to the eye, causing the red-eye effect. 
      • Ways to Manage: Use of OTC eye drops containing tetryzoline can help, as can chocolate, sodium, or caffeine.
  • Paranoia/Anxiety
      • Why it happens: When the brain absorbs far more THC than usual, this causes an overstimulation of the amygdala causing fear and anxiety. The chances of anxiety or paranoia are more likely when we are concerned, think negatively about ourselves, or have disturbing shifts in our perception. 
      • Ways to Prevent: Consume less at a time, use cannabis strains with a higher CBD content
      • Ways to Manage: Create a relaxing environment, alternate nostril breathing, consume a mixture of orange juice and pepper.
  • Hallucinations/Psychosis
      • Why it happens: Hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity can occur in people who have ingested large doses of marijuana. Risk factors include use at a young age, frequency of use, potency, genetics (AKT1, family history)
      • Ways to Prevent: Consume less THC, try ratio products with higher CBD, go low and slow.
  • Lightheadedness/Dizziness
      • Why it happens: While cannabis can initially increase heart rate and blood pressure, thoughts are the vasodilatory effects.
      • Ways to Prevent: Eat before you consume, consume less THC, change consumption method, go low and slow, consume while seated. 
  • Headaches
      • Why it happens: Rebound headaches from cannabis can be caused by dehydration and overuse. Cannabis can cause the mucous membrane to become dry and increase the thickness of the mucous. 
      • Ways to Prevent: hydrate, titrate dose – “low & slow”, take a tolerance break
  • Increased Heart Rate
      • Why it happens: Cannabis has complex effects on the cardiovascular system – increasing heart rate, dilating blood vessels, and making the heart pump harder. Smoking cannabis causes an immediate increase in heart rate and expansion of the blood vessels. (20-50 beats per minute)
      • Ways to Prevent: Use non-smokable forms
  • Drowsiness
      • Why it happens: THC communicates with the cannabinoid receptors to increase adenosine which is involved in the sleep/wake cycle and can cause a feeling of sleepiness. Myrcene, a terpene found in cannabis, can add to the sedative effect while also enhancing the sedative effect from THC. 
      • Ways to Prevent: Indica strains are more drowsing, so look for cannabis sativa or hybrid strains or choose a strain with a CBD ratio to inhibit some of the mind effects.
  • Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
    • A rare condition occurring in daily long-term users of marijuana that leads to repeated and severe bouts of vomiting, the cause is still unknown. 
      • Ways to Prevent: Take tolerance breaks, use cannabis responsibly
      • Way to Manage: Hot shower/bath, Capsaicin cream applied to the sternum


Although uncommon, cannabis can trigger an allergic reaction just as any other plant or pollen can. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), a person can develop an allergy or allergic sensitization to marijuana after exposure to the plant by: 

  • Inhaling pollen in the air
  • Smoking marijuana
  • Touching marijuana
  • Eating marijuana

The symptoms of a marijuana allergy are usually benign and similar to seasonal allergy symptoms (dry cough, congestion, itchy eyes, nausea, red, itchy, or watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, sore or itchy throat) or contact dermatitis symptoms (blisters, dry skin, hives, itchiness, red, inflamed skin). These allergy symptoms occur within the first few hours after ingestions. Even less common, marijuana can cause anaphylaxis which can be life-threatening and occurs within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen.

To stop symptoms from getting worse, a person should immediately stop touching or ingesting their cannabis.

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