Differences In Cultivation For Medicinal And Recreational Cannabis

January 16, 2023 | Category : Cannabis Knowledge | Posted By : Daniel Gana

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All cannabis plants are not created the same. They differ in their phytochemical content especially cannabinoids and terpenes, thus producing different reactions in users and patients. The overall cannabinoid content of the cannabis plant plays a major role in its use for medicinal and recreational purposes.

While recreational and medicinal cannabis may undergo an almost similar cultivation procedure, there are nuances that must be taken into consideration if you are cultivating the plant for recreational or medicinal purposes.  

For instance, medicinal cannabis is closely monitored to ensure the safety of patients. This often includes monitoring of all cultivation processes to ensure the final products meet health standards and regulations. Recreational cannabis on other hand, may not be subject to such stringent laws thus giving a clear-cut difference in their cultivation and monitoring procedures.

Compliance rules differ from one region to another. This is what makes cannabis cultivation interesting and difficult. This is where our cultivation module comes into the picture. At Cannavigia, our cultivation module was designed to monitor important parameters that allow your final products to maintain plant properties without breaking industry standards.

What are those differences in cultivating cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes?

Cultivating cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes are quite different as cultivators are likely to obey different protocols. Some of these differences are discussed below;

Cannabinoid Content

Cannabinoid content and the absence of contaminants is everything as far as the cannabis industry is concerned. THC concentration plays a major role in legalizing cannabis for medicinal or recreational use.

Environmental factors such as light intensity, humidity, and temperature are important in cannabis content. A 2021 study confirmed that light intensity can determine yield quantity, cannabinoid concentration and combination, and plant morphology. Higher light intensity tends to favour the production of THC, CBC, and CBN.

Cultivation inputs

Cultivators must pay special attention to cultivation inputs like pesticides, and fertilizer as far as medicinal cannabis is concerned. These inputs can expose patients to health risks.

Most pesticides with high concentrations of toxic compounds are unauthorized in cannabis cultivation. These chemicals can cause harm to patients by damaging major organs in the body.

Using unauthorized pesticides will lead to compliance failure. Why a pesticide is considered unauthorized may differ from one location to the other since each location has the liberty to set its pesticide residues.

Countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have imposed limits on pesticide and fertilizer residues rather than an outright ban since pest control is important in agriculture. To solve the challenge of excessive pesticide use, states like California and Oregon have approved the use of pesticides containing sulfur, neem oil, and Bacillus thuringiensis as active ingredients.

Cultivators focusing on medicinal cannabis must monitor fertiliser application to ensure it does not break compliance standards. This is quite hectic and requires constant monitoring with compliance software.


Good Agricultural and collection practices (GACP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) serve as guidelines that protect patients of medicinal cannabis. They ensure that product quality is not compromised throughout production processes and have set standards to achieve them.

While GACP standards apply to the cultivation and some processing steps of cannabis (cutting and drying), GMP are rules that generally kick in during post-production, you can read our article on EU-GMP and EU-GACP for more information.

Is there a standard for recreational cannabis?

Since the market pays special attention to medicinal cannabis, there are little to no standards for recreational cannabis. While countries like the US (at the State level), Canada, and Uruguay have successfully created an industry standard for recreational cannabis, Europe is still far behind. These policies suggested the following;

  • Limiting the total concentration of THC in all products.
  • Instituting a sales limit on products per person
  • Cannabis products could be taxed based on THC potency
  • Implementing a seed-to-sale tracking system.

A good example of standards for recreational cannabis is the pilot projects in Switzerland. The project recommends that only cannabis plants to be used in the project must be produced in Switzerland, cultivated according to the GACP standards set by the country, and cultivated in accordance with the rule of organic farming in Switzerland.

The seed-to-sale tracking system like our cultivation software will allow growers to collect relevant data concerning plant health and how to optimize it for better yield and production of compliant products. With our cultivation software, users can keep track of plant activities, and monitor response to certain stimuli and growth parameters like light intensity, cannabinoid potency, fertilizer and pesticide use, and more.

Our cultivation software cuts across all aspects of the cannabis industry and can assist cultivators to stay compliant at all times.  It offers several benefits that keep your plants compliant regardless of your purpose of cultivation. Contact us if you want more information on the cultivation module!