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Cost & Benefits: Recreational vs Medical Marijuana

Posted by Canna Randa on May 12, 2021

If you have been to an Illinois marijuana dispensary like EarthMed or visited a dispensary website, you have probably noticed that medical cannabis patients are treated differently, pay different prices, and can purchase different products than recreational users. Medical marijuana patients get these benefits because they have gone through the licensing process sanctioned by the State of Illinois, including paying an application fee, registering with a medical dispensary of their choice, and receiving their medical marijuana card

Being an official medical marijuana patient comes with many benefits to which recreational users do not have access.


Dispensaries are required to prioritize medical marijuana patients over adult recreational use. If there is ever a marijuana shortage in Illinois, medical patients will have first dibs on whatever is available. This prioritization ensures that patients can enjoy uninterrupted medical treatment, no matter what. To minimize your chances of running out of weed, you should look into becoming a registered patient.

Aside from inventory, priority for entering the dispensary itself goes to medical patients. Recreational users can expect to wait outside for a bit, while medical patients can typically walk right into the facility to get their medicine. If you hate waiting in lines, becoming a medical patient will save you time and frustration.


As you can see on our site, there are different menus for medical marijuana and recreational. This difference in menus stems from the fact that there are different products available for medical marijuana patients than recreational users. These products can be different medical-grade strains, product types, or concentration strengths. If you want the most potent variety to choose from, it is in your best interests to become a card-carrying medical marijuana patient. 


Recreational marijuana tax rates are higher than those for medical cannabis, which means that rec users pay more for their weed. As with any taxes, rates may vary, and vary widely. The tax rate on recreational marijuana products can reach up to 28.75%, depending on the product potency, THC percentage, and dispensary location. Medical marijuana patients can purchase the same product and expect only to pay 1% sales tax plus the local sales tax. If a medical patient buys $100 worth of flower and edibles, they will pay approximately $105, while a recreational user will pay around $130. 

Suppose you plan on being a heavy recreational marijuana user. In that case, you may want to consider getting your medical card as it will pay for itself with only a handful of trips to the dispensary. Your $25 savings on each $100 purchase will add up quickly!


Illinois medical cannabis patients can grow their own medicine at home. Up to five marijuana plants are allowed to be grown for personal possession and consumption. Medical patients are allowed the opportunity to bypass the dispensaries and cultivate the strains that work best for their conditions. At this time, it is still illegal for recreational users to grow cannabis in Illinois. So if you want to grow your own smoke, you must be a medical patient.

As you can see, the benefits of becoming a medical marijuana patient are plentiful. If you live in Illinois and have a qualifying medical condition, I would strongly suggest taking steps to obtain your medical cannabis card. After all, who doesn’t like paying fewer taxes?

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