Histories Rewind to pre-Christianity. The history of cannabis as a medicine doesn’t stray far from its history of recreational use. The medicinal and recreational use of cannabis began around the same time, dating back to at least 2,500 years ago. According to research, it’s one of the oldest plants cultivated in East Asia, where it was used for its fiber, oil, grains, medicinal properties, recreational effect, and even rituals. In fact, leather baskets of cannabis leaves and seeds have been found near the heads and feet of high-ranking shamans in the Yanghai tombs (circa 500 B.C.) located in what is now the northwestern region of China.
Biomarkers of ancient cannabis were discovered in wooden vessels discovered in the region. There were intense levels of CBN detected, a non-intoxicating compound that develops as THC ages. More recent studies show that CBN acts as a potent antibacterial, appetite stimulant, neuroprotectant, anti-inflammatory agent, and more. The evidence leads researchers to believe that people began cultivating cannabis selectively over time to yield higher levels of THC. So, it’s difficult to determine which actually came first – ritual, medicinal, or recreational use.

There’s no clear evidence that smoking pipes were a method of consumption before they were introduced to Eurasia from the New World. That said, the way that cannabis was consumed thousands of years ago is still uncertain. However, there was evidently a use for cannabis in various ancient burial sites and most likely mortuary ceremonies.
Fast forward to today. Medicinal cannabis can be used to treat a variety of ailments, including those that can’t be measured with a blood test or x-ray. Qualifying conditions for medicinal cannabis prescriptions include anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, ADD/ADHD, arthritis, cancers, chronic illnesses, migraines, or pain that isn’t caused by lesions, for example.

From nightmares or vertigo to stress or stutters, there is a wide variety of general and very specific medicinal cannabis on the market to treat dozens of conditions. Only medical marijuana dispensaries can fill a prescription for cannabis, which may include infused tablets or CBD pills. Like recreational cannabis, medicinal options are offered in the form of buds (also known as flower), tinctures, topicals and creams, edibles, vaporizers, or dabs (highly concentrated oils), to name a few.

Photo by Cornelio Greer

Some dispensaries offer both medicinal and recreational cannabis. (ECO is one of them!).

Recreational cannabis is used for similar reasons adults opt-in for a glass of alcohol, a cigarette, or another substance for a buzz or euphoric effect. Cannabis with higher levels of THC can produce feelings of relaxation and joy, and it has the capacity to lower inhibitions. Alternatively, cannabis with higher CBD ratios does not yield the psychoactive effects of THC.

In fact, CBD counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC and can be used to absolve the effects of THC if necessary. For example, a responsible host of a social event can offer non-topical CBD products in case anyone on-site wants to return to a nearly sober state of mind (and body). The results of this method are relatively immediate.
Though marijuana is not yet legal on a federal level, cannabis companies are subject to federal income taxes. Many of them face tax rates between 30% to 70%. It’s not uncommon for companies to bake sales taxes into the price of cannabis products.

The price of recreational cannabis is much higher due to additional taxes imposed by the state in which it’s sold. Those taxes could be anywhere between 10% and upwards of 25% depending on the state. In some states, medicinal marijuana is exempt from sales tax.

Photo by Cornelio Greer

Other than taxes based on the type of cannabis, the price per gram is generally the same — about $7 to $19 per gram, depending on the city. Higher costs usually come from higher quality, which is typically determined by the potency, density, color, aroma, strain, and even the growing process. Cannabis grown outdoors is typically less expensive than cannabis grown indoors, for example, and these costs impact the price of the final product.

This article is inspired by ECO’s approach to its in-store customers: To provide an educational experience for its customers, especially the canna-curious and senior citizens in the community. If you have a question about cannabis, the budtenders at ECO (also known as Experience Guides) are more than happy to answer and make recommendations that are a match for the cannabis experience you desire.

If you have questions about the differences between recreational and medicinal marijuana, feel free to leave a comment here or drop a line to Ivy Summer at [email protected] to inquire.