Cannabis sativa is a plant with many names – weed, pot, marijuana, hash – that can have psychoactive characteristics and is consumed recreationally and for medical purposes. Cannabis sativa is a versatile plant and has been consumed by people for thousands of years for medicinal, recreational, industrial, and food purposes. The cannabis plant has hundreds of chemical compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes.
What’s the difference between “cannabis” and “marijuana”?
Nothing. Under the Cannabis Law, the term cannabis is used instead of marijuana. Marijuana is a term that grew in popularity in the late 19th century to refer to cannabis and was historically used in a derogatory way towards certain ethnic groups. For this reason, the OCM is using the term cannabis to refer to marijuana and the term hemp to refer specifically to hemp. Under the Cannabis Law, “adult-use cannabis” is used to refer to non-medical cannabis.
Ok, but then what’s hemp?
“Hemp” and “adult-use cannabis” are different classifications of the cannabis plant. Hemp is used to classify varieties of cannabis that contain 0.3% or less THC. Adult-use cannabis and Medical cannabis are used to classify varieties of cannabis that contain more than 0.3% THC, which is known for its psychoactive effects (including a feeling of being high).
What is THC?
The cannabis plant produces more than 100 different cannabinoids, which are natural compounds that can have different effects on the mind and body. Tetrahydrocannabinol known as “THC” and cannabidiol known as “CBD” are the most common. THC is known for its psychoactive effects (a feeling of being high).
What is CBD?
CBD is the second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis. Many people who grow hemp, grow varieties that are high in CBD. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a “high” or psychoactive effect by itself.
The Office has created a variety of educational materials to be used and they are listed in the table below. Some materials address specific topics or are tailored towards certain audiences.
A fact sheet addressing misconceptions about cannabis mixed with fentanyl.
A brochure about cannabis concentrates and what consumers should know.
A booklet resource about adult-use cannabis for cannabis consumers
Other Languages: Español
A fact sheet explaining adult-use cannabis taxes at retail sales and how the revenue will be reinvested in communities across NY.
Learn what's included and how to understand your cannabis product's laboratory testing results
A rack card for cannabis consumers on the importance of finding your serving size and safer and responsible consumption of edibles
Adult-Use Cannabis Delivery FAQs
A 4x6 flyer outlining key provisions of the Cannabis law in New York for cannabis consumers.
Safe Storage Rack Card
A one page document summarizing key information about adult-use cannabis.
"Get the Facts!" Wallet Card
How to Read a Cannabis Product's Label
|What Parents, Mentors, and Trusted Adults Need to Know About Cannabis
Other Languages: Español | 中文 | بى | יידיש | Русский | Polski | Italiano | Kreyòl Ayisyen | ইংরেজি | 한국어
|Medical Cannabis Program: Cannabis 101
Other Languages: Español | 中文 | بى | יידיש | Русский | Polski | Italiano | Kreyòl Ayisyen | ইংরেজি | 한국어
|Cannabis Considerations for People who are Pregnant or Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding
Other Languages: Español | 中文
|What You Need to Know About the Legalization of Cannabis in New York
The Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) was an act of the legislature which legalized adult-use cannabis (also known as marijuana or recreational marijuana) in New York State and created the state's Cannabis Law
Other Languages: Español
|What is in the Law about Cannabis: Adult Use License Types
Summaries of the different adult-use cannabis license types and ownership limitations, as set out in the Cannabis Law
|What is in the Law about Cannabis: Social and Economic Equity
The legalization of cannabis incentivizes participation in the cannabis industry for individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, automatically expunges past marijuana convictions, and invests adult use cannabis tax revenue towards rebuilding communities impacted by the War on Drugs
Other Languages: Español
|What is in the Law about Cannabis: Penal Law
Outlines how the MRTA modified criminal violations and penalties related to the sale and possession of cannabis
|What is in the Law about Cannabis: Governance Structure
Explains the governance structure of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)
|What is in the Law about Cannabis: Employers and Workplace Conduct
Key provisions from law which impact employers and workplace conduct related to cannabis
|What is in the Law about Cannabis: Medical Cannabis
Describes ways the MRTA expanded the medical marijuana program, which was moved from the Department of Health to OCM
|What is in the Law about Cannabis: Public Health & Safety
Key provisions from law that help protect the public health and safety of New Yorkers
|Adult Use Cannabis and the Workplace
Fact sheet assembled by New York State Department of Labor which outlines common situations and questions in the workplace related to cannabis
Other Languages: Español
What's Legal and What's Illegal
It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy, possess, or consumes use adult-use cannabis in New York. Just like alcohol and tobacco. Cannabis use consumption by people under 21 has been found to have negative social, physical, and mental health impacts on people under 21 because their brains are still growing and developing. Businesses must have an adult-use license to legally sell cannabis in New York, and adult-use retail dispensaries can lose their license or face other significant penalties for selling cannabis to anyone under 21. Adults can be charged with criminal penalties for selling or giving cannabis products to someone anyone under 21.
What is Legal?
What is Illegal?
Adult-use sales of any amount are still illegal. View more information on penalties related to unlicensed cannabis sales.
Cannabis Consumption and Your Rights at Work
While it is legal for adults 21 years or older to consume cannabis, employers can still enforce policies that prohibit impairment. Employers are not required to commit any act that would cause them to violate federal law or lose federal funding.
Consult your employer’s policies and the Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet for additional guidance.
What is Legal?
What is Illegal?
If you feel different, you drive different. And remember, if you’ve consumed food infused with cannabis – called an “edible” – it can take as long as four hours for it take effect. If you’re not sure if you’re high or impaired, stay put, and don’t take the chance of harming yourself or others. Make a plan before you consume cannabis.
Can my landlord prohibit me from using cannabis?
A landlord cannot refuse to rent to a tenant who consumes cannabis, but landlords, property owners, and rental companies can still ban the smoking or vaporizing of cannabis on their premises.
Can I consume cannabis at a hotel within New York State?
Even if you’re traveling within the state, hotel owners can ban the smoking or vaporizing of cannabis on their properties, so you may not be able to consume in a hotel room. Please note, that leaving the state or country with any cannabis product is against the law.
Can I travel with cannabis?
Leaving or coming into the state or country with any cannabis product is against the law. Also, since cannabis is still illegal under federal law, you cannot consume on federal land (including national parks and national forests).
If you keep cannabis and cannabis products at your home, they should be stored safely, locked up, and out of reach of children and pets. Accidentally consuming edibles is a risk for children and pets that can result in cannabis toxicity or the need for emergency medical attention. If there is an accidental exposure to cannabis or cannabis products of any kind — call Poison Control Center (800) 222-1222 or visit your Emergency Room if needed.
Contact your vet immediately if your pet has ingested a cannabis-containing product.
Cannabis Health Effects
Cannabis does not affect everyone the same.
If you haven’t consumed cannabis before, or it has been a while, it’s good to “start low and go slow”. Different forms of cannabis can also have different effects. For example, edible cannabis products can take up to 4 hours before the individual feels the peak effects. Cannabis should always be consumed responsibly and never before driving or operating heavy machinery.
Can second-hand cannabis smoke be harmful?
While more research is necessary, the evidence available so far indicates that second-hand smoke from cannabis can have adverse health effects. Like tobacco smoke, cannabis smoke contains tar and cancer-causing chemicals, which raises concerns; cannabis aerosol can also contain harmful chemicals. It’s important to be mindful about where you smoke it and to be sure that you’re doing so away from other people.
Despite the medicinal uses for cannabis, there can also be health risks for certain populations or individuals. Many of these risks depend on when you consume cannabis, how much you consume, and the type of cannabis you consume. Certain compounds in cannabis – notably tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – can affect the brain in ways that can impact behavior, mood, thoughts, or perceptions and can be intoxicating. It is important to recognize that intoxication can be felt differently in different people and depends on the type of cannabis product being consumed, how much is being consumed, and whether someone is new to consuming cannabis. The intoxicating effects of cannabis consumed in edibles or beverages can be delayed and may not be fully felt until four or more hours after consumption.
It is possible to consume too much cannabis – though a cannabis “overdose” does not look like an overdose from alcohol or opioids. Consuming too much cannabis can result in acute psychosis and/or paranoia. If you think you’ve consumed too much cannabis, you can call the New York Poison Control Center (800) 222-1222) or, if it’s an emergency, call 9-1-1.
Cannabis consumption has health impacts. If you are pregnant or breast/chest feeding, have been diagnosed or are predisposed to having a serious mental illness, have a history of respiratory or cardiovascular illness, or are currently taking any prescription medication – talk with your health care provider before consuming.
Cannabis can be harmful to children and pets. Edible products, in particular, can be confused with food. Cannabis and cannabis products should be stored locked and out of reach of children and pets. If you think a child or pet has accidentally consumed cannabis, contact the New York Poison Control Center (800) 222-1222) or, if it’s an emergency, call 9-1-1.
Is cannabis addictive?
It can be. Up to 3 in 10 people who consume cannabis develop “cannabis use disorder”. The risk of developing “cannabis use disorder” can increase for people who start using cannabis at a young age and consume cannabis frequently. If you think your cannabis consumption is disrupting your daily life or causing problems at work or at home, or if you crave cannabis, talk with a health care provider or substance use counselor. You can also call or text the Office of Addiction Services and Supports 24/7 NY Hopeline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (467369) or text HOPENY (467369) or visit oasas.ny.gov to learn more about addiction treatment.
What are the signs of “Cannabis Use Disorder”?
“Cannabis Use Disorder” is the medical diagnosis for problematic cannabis consumption. Cannabis consumption is problematic when it begins to impact an individual’s life. Some common signs of “Cannabis Use Disorder” include:
- Using more cannabis than intended
- Trying but failing to stop using cannabis when you want to
- Spending a lot of time using cannabis
- Craving cannabis
- Using cannabis even when it causes problems at home, at school, or at work
- Continuing to consume cannabis despite social, relationship, or school-related problems
- Giving up important activities with family or friends in favor of using cannabis
- Using cannabis in high-risk situations, like while driving a car
- Continuing to consume cannabis despite physical or psychological problems
- Needing to consume more cannabis to get the same high
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping consumption of cannabis
Are there any risks to using cannabis with alcohol or other substances?
Yes. Using cannabis and alcohol at the same time can make you more impaired than using either substance alone. Also, if you’re taking prescription drugs, be sure to ask your healthcare provider if it’s safe to consume with cannabis.
What about synthetic cannabinoids, are they safe?
Synthetic cannabinoids (or fake marijuana, K2, “spice”) are psychoactive substances that are human made. Synthetic cannabinoids are often plant material sprayed with chemicals and are NOT from the cannabis sativa plant. Although they are sometimes marketed as safe legal alternatives, they are not safe and can affect the brain significantly more than cannabis. Their effects are unpredictable and can be dangerous or life threatening.
Because synthetic cannabinoids bind to cell receptors more strongly, they can cause much stronger effects. People have reported experiencing rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, hallucinations, confusion, extreme anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Products can change batch to batch and have different chemical compositions making it difficult to predict the effects. Synthetic cannabinoids can also be addictive.
You have to be 21 to buy, consume, or possess cannabis in New York State.
Cannabis can be harmful to growing brains and have long-term health and social impacts.
Certain compounds in cannabis (like THC) can affect the developing brain. The part of the brain that is responsible for making decisions (the prefrontal cortex) is one of the last parts of the brain that develops and is particularly impacted by cannabis use. Young people’s brains aren’t done developing until the age of 25.
What other developmental issues in young people can be caused by cannabis consumption?
Negative cognitive effects can include difficulty thinking and solving problems, problems with memory and learning, reduced coordination, difficulty maintaining attention, and problems with school and social life after consistent consumption.
Can cannabis have an impact on mental health?
Youth frequently using cannabis can increase the risk of mental health issues, including depression, social anxiety, acute psychosis, and schizophrenia. Cannabis consumption, especially frequent (daily or near daily) consumption and consumption that begins at an early age has been associated with schizophrenia and psychosis. The association appears stronger in people who also have a family history of schizophrenia, and in people who consume cannabis with higher THC content.
Parents and mentors: You can impact whether the young people in your life consumes cannabis. Start the conversation with them early and have it often. Make sure they understand the consequences and the negative impact it can have on their growing, developing brain. pre-teens, teens, and youth young people in their early 20s tend to seek out new experiences and engage in risky behaviors, like using cannabis.
Cannabis and Pregnancy
Like many other drugs, there is limited research on the effects of cannabis on pregnancy and/or fetal development. Medical organizations like The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that you stop using cannabis if you’re pregnant or breast/chest feeding. There are still many unknowns about the short- and long-term effects of cannabis during and after pregnancy for you and your baby. A safe choice is to take a break from cannabis consumption.
Cannabis purchased from the illicit market (i.e., cannabis that is not purchased from a licensed dispensary) can pose additional risks to you and your baby as it is not tested or regulated. These products can potentially be contaminated with mold and/or other chemicals that can be dangerous if consumed.
For more information, view the Breastfeeding Grand Rounds “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding,” hosted by the SUNY University at Albany School of Public Health.
Is it okay to consume cannabis while pregnant?
If you are pregnant, leading doctors’ organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that you stop using cannabis. This recommendation is based on studies of both human and animal subjects. Even with these studies, it is still hard to say for sure that cannabis itself impacted the health of participants. This is because in many studies, the people participating had more than one risk factor - things like other substance use, tobacco use, and/or lower socioeconomic status. Because of this, it is often difficult to determine the impact of cannabis exposure alone on a pregnancy or baby.
Because so much is unknown, many providers and medical organizations recommend that people stop consuming cannabis while pregnant and/or while breast/chest feeding. The THC you consume can pass through to your baby and it is possible that exposure may impact your baby.
We do know that smoking can be harmful to both you and your baby. It is recommended to stop smoking products of any kind during pregnancy, while breast/chest feeding, or when around children of any age.
I consume cannabis regularly and just found out I am pregnant, what should I do?
Stop or at least reduce your consumption. If you are having trouble quitting, you can call or text the Office of Addiction Services and Supports 24/7 NY Hopeline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (467369) or text HOPENY (467369) or visit oasas.ny.gov to learn more about addiction treatment.
Is it okay to take medical cannabis while pregnant?
Unfortunately, there is not much research on the impact of medical cannabis on pregnancy or babies. If you take medical cannabis, you should talk with your health care provider about the possible risks/benefits of medical cannabis consumption during pregnancy. You can also ask your provider about other medications or treatments which may have more pregnancy-specific safety data.
Can cannabis help my morning sickness?
There have been no clinical trials or studies to prove that cannabis is an effective way to treat morning sickness. If you are experiencing morning sickness, speak with your provider about prescribing or recommending an alternative to treat your nausea for which there is more pregnancy-specific data.
What are the potential health effects of using cannabis during pregnancy?
There is limited research on the impact of cannabis on the health of pregnancy and the development of babies. We do know that cannabis ingested by a pregnant person can be passed to your baby.
It is important to remember that cannabis smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, which are known to be harmful to pregnancy. Breathing cannabis smoke can be harmful for you and your baby.
Is it safe to consume cannabis while breast/chest feeding?
It is safest to not consume cannabis while breast/chest feeding as some of the components can be passed in the breast/chest milk. The benefits of breast/chest feeding are vast both for you and your baby- nothing else comes close. If you choose to continue using cannabis, we recommend reducing both the amount and frequency, until research data tells us more. If you're having trouble cutting down, call 1-877-8-HOPENY (467369) or textHOPENY (467369) or visit oasas.ny.gov to learn more about addiction treatment.
Learn more about the considerations of cannabis use while pregnant and breastfeeding/chestfeeding
Parents and Trusted Adults: You can impact whether the youth and young adults in your life use cannabis. It’s never too soon to start the conversation. Talk with them early and often to help them understand how underage use of cannabis can impact them.
Adult-use home cultivation of cannabis plants is currently not allowed. Pursuant to the MRTA, the home cultivation of cannabis plants may only be permitted after the Office of Cannabis Management issues regulations governing home cultivation of cannabis, which must be no later than 18 months after the first adult-use retail sale.
Once permitted, New Yorkers 21 years and older can grow up to six plants in their home for personal use (3 mature plants and 3 immature plants) and a maximum of twelve plants per household (6 mature plants and 6 immature plants), even if there are three or more adults 21 and over in the residence.
- Cannabis plants must be kept in a secure place and not accessible to any person under 21.
- Home cultivated cannabis cannot be sold to anyone and is only intended for personal use.
- Please note, it is illegal to make cannabis hash oil or concentrates using substances like butane, propane, or alcohol with home grown cannabis.
- Local municipalities may enact and enforce regulations relating to home cultivation of cannabis provided, no municipality may completely ban or prohibit home cultivation.
The home cultivation of medical cannabis is currently permitted. To learn more, please visit cannabis.ny.gov/patients
Adult-Use and Social and Economic Equity
Social equity is central to the Cannabis Law, which seeks to begin the work of repairing decades of disproportionate enforcement and over criminalization of cannabis prohibition, especially in Black and Brown communities. Ensuring those harmed are given an equitable chance to participate and thrive in the legal New York cannabis industry is a key mandate of the Cannabis Law and a priority of the Office of Cannabis Management. Under the law:
Records for people with previous cannabis convictions are automatically expunged or otherwise suppressed;
Provisions routinely used to over criminalize people of color were removed;
There is a goal to issue 50% of licenses to equity applicants; and
40% of tax revenues will be directed - after covering the cost of the program - into programs supporting the communities most impacted by disproportionate enforcement.
Misdemeanor and felony marijuana arrest data by race/ethnicity and county from 1990 to 2020, and notes about the data, are available here.
Does the Cannabis Law expunge past cannabis arrests and convictions?
Yes. The Cannabis Law automatically expunges records for people with previous convictions for activities that are no longer criminalized. Individuals who qualify for expungement are not required to take any further action to have their records expunged. So far, New York State and the Office of Court Administration have expunged approximately 300,000 records and suppressed another approximately 100,000 from background searches as they await expungement.
What does expungement mean?
Expungement is a process through which your criminal arrests, offenses, and convictions are legally removed from public record as if it never existed, and therefore will not be viewable by potential employers, landlords, schools, etc. Even a court or prosecutor cannot view a person's expunged record.
What are the new penalties and violations for unlawful cannabis consumption, possession, or sale?
How does the Cannabis Law impact an individual on probation or parole?
The Cannabis Law prohibits an individual on probation or parole from being punished or otherwise penalized for lawful cannabis consumption, unless the terms and conditions of the parole, probation, or state supervision explicitly prohibit a person's cannabis consumption.
Why does the Cannabis Law include a social and economic equity program?
The enforcement of cannabis prohibition disproportionately and adversely impacted certain communities. To help counter this, the Cannabis Law creates a social and economic equity program to rehabilitate and empower those communities and individuals impacted by cannabis prohibition. The program also includes minority- and women-owned businesses, service-disabled veterans, and distressed farmers.
How does the new law promote social and economic equity?
The Cannabis Law establishes a robust social and economic equity program to prioritize and provide resources to members of communities that have been disproportionally impacted by the policies of cannabis prohibition and create pathways to industry participation through the implementation of a social and economic equity plan. The Cannabis Law establishes a goal to award 50% of all adult-use licenses to social and economic equity applicants and dedicates 40% of the adult-use cannabis tax revenue to reinvestment in communities disproportionally impacted.
How do I qualify as a social and economic equity applicant?
Social and economic equity applicants include individuals who have lived in communities disproportionally impacted by cannabis prohibition and other underrepresented groups, including minority- and women-owned businesses, distressed farmers, and service-disabled veterans-. More details about the social and economic equity program will be prescribed in future regulations promulgated by the Cannabis Control Board. Please continue to monitor this website for updates or sign-up to the OCM email distribution list.
Will people who were convicted of a marijuana-related offense be allowed to participate in the industry?
Yes. Not only can they participate, in fact, under the Cannabis Law, individuals convicted of a cannabis-related offense, or individuals who had a parent, guardian, child, spouse, or dependent, or was a dependent of an individual who was convicted of a cannabis-related offense, may qualify as a social and economic equity applicant and receive priority in the license process. When more details are available, they will be posted on the OCM website. For more information, please refer to the Social Equity Fact Sheet.
The MRTA incentivizes participation in the new industry for individuals disproportionally impacted by cannabis prohibition, automatically expunges an individual’s past marijuana convictions, and invests 40% of the adult-use cannabis tax revenue toward rebuilding communities harmed by the War on Drugs.
Adult-use cannabis has three taxes on it. There is a tax imposed at the distributor tier based on the milligrams (mg) of total THC in the cannabis product. There are different rates of tax depending on the cannabis product form.
- Edibles (e.g. food and beverages) are taxed at $0.03 per mg of THC
- Concentrates (e.g. vaporization oil, wax, shatter, and resin) are taxed at $0.008 per mg of THC
- Cannabis flower (e.g. loose flower, pre-rolls, or shake) are taxed at $.005 per mg THC.
- On the retail sale to the consumer, there are two taxes:
- 9% state excise tax
- 4% local excise tax
- These taxes do not apply to medical cannabis.
All cannabis taxes would be deposited in the New York state cannabis revenue fund. Revenue covers reasonable costs to administer the program, including support mechanisms for equity applicants, and implement the law. The remaining funding would be split three ways:
- 40% to Education
- 40% to Community Grants Reinvestment Fund
- 20% to Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund
Contact the Office of Cannabis Management
For additional questions on the campaign, email: [email protected]
To reach the Office of Cannabis Management for more information, please call: 1-888-OCM-5151 (1-888-626-5151)