Recreational or medical marijuana? Craig consumers have options
Two more of Craig’s city-allotted seven licensed retail marijuana dispensaries opened up in town over the last few weeks. As the city’s total rises to five recreational dispensaries, it also added one medical option.
Tumbleweed Dispensary has yet to have its grand opening, but employees said it offers both recreational and medical cannabis.
That means Tumbleweed joins Shaun Hadley’s Craig Apothecary in providing the prescribed product. So, what exactly is the difference? Hadley, who also owns recreational outlet HoneyBear Apothecary in town, said it’s fairly simple: strength.
“At our (medical) shop, what’s popular is the 1,000-milligram jars,” Hadley said. “That lasts people a long time. At our recreational shop, you’re limited to only 100 milligrams per serving. That’s a big difference. The other is you can purchase up to 2 ounces of cannabis as opposed to 1 on the recreational side.”
Finally, Hadley pointed out, is the price difference. Medical marijuana is taxed at a standard sales tax rate. Recreational has added state taxes that push well above 20%. Part of those state taxes go toward grants to help build and maintain public schools.
Meanwhile, licensing for vendors, Hadley said, is very similar between medical and recreational as well.
“It’s almost exactly the same procedure,” he said. “Instead of a recreational license they call it a Medical Marijuana Center license. They’re handled differently, but the application process is almost exactly the same.”
Hadley added that medical card-carrying consumers, or patients, can often get a discount buying recreational marijuana. HoneyBear gives 20% off to a buyer with a medical card.
But that’s where the discounting ends. Despite being medically prescribed, health insurance doesn’t touch medical pot.
“It’s because of the federal illegality,” Hadley said. “It’s treated kind of like a legal, criminal enterprise. So weird.”
However, insurance aside, it remains much more cost efficient to buy medically prescribed and licensed cannabis.
“If you go into a recreational dispensary, you’ll pay for your maximum amount of recreational, eight 100-milligram items, so 800 milligrams in product,” Hadley said. “That costs, on a good sale day, maybe $150, but more often about $200. That’s edibles. Then the medical side, at Craig Apothecary, we have 1,000-milligram candy bars and gummies, $55 each, tax included. That’s a huge savings.”
But that hasn’t stopped folks from predominantly frequenting the recreational shops. Hadley’s theory on why — it’s not all that hard to get a medical card, he says — is simple.
“Americans want convenience,” he said. “It’s not convenient to go to a doctor, pay money. Those are three extra steps people don’t want to take. In my opinion, the education isn’t quite there either. Some really sick people spend more money on recreational rather than get a card. We always say get the card, and they’re stoked when they do.”
A number of medical issues qualify one for a medical card, including chronic pain and nausea, as well as less ubiquitous illnesses like glaucoma, cancer and others.
“PTSD was added recently after a long, hard battle,” Hadley said.
Hadley, who sells on both sides of the coin in Craig, says his passion is still in the medical side.
“Recreational is fun, and I mean the money’s cool, and it’s cool to have a place, but I got into it because of medical, and I don’t want to see that go away,” he said. “If you have a reason to get a card, support the industry. The industry needs customer support to exist. If medical goes away, that really hurts the people who rely and depend on it.”
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