Cannabis (also known as marijuana) is the second-most commonly used recreational drug in NYC, after alcohol. It can be smoked, vaped or ingested as a food or beverage, producing reactions such as a relaxed, euphoric feeling, anxiety and an increased heart rate.
It comes from the cannabis plant, which contains several compounds, including THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is a psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant that makes people feel high. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high or cause impairment.
Different forms of cannabis contain different amounts of THC and produce different effects. The more THC that a cannabis product contains, the stronger the effect.
Concentrates, such as dabs, wax and oil, may have much higher proportions of THC — 40% to 90% — than other forms of cannabis, which are usually about 20% THC. Concentrates can cause a faster, more intense effect than other forms of cannabis and may lead to an increased health risk. Cannabis added into food and beverages, known as “edibles”, have a delayed and longer-lasting effect than smoked or vaped cannabis.
A person’s reaction to cannabis may be affected by their age, height, weight, health status, medications taken, tolerance and what other food, liquids and drugs they have consumed that day.
In addition to the health risks noted below, cannabis use also has some therapeutic effects. Benefits include the treatment of chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and multiple sclerosis spasticity.
People may experience negative effects from cannabis, especially after using concentrated cannabis or taking multiple doses of any type of cannabis within a short period of time. Negative reactions may include:
People who smoke cannabis may develop a cough, asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory issues. Cannabis smoking is not associated with the types of cancers that can be caused by smoking tobacco, such as lung, head and neck cancers.
For people who are at risk of developing psychotic disorders due to genetic predisposition, cannabis use at a young age and in large amounts may cause these disorders to develop faster. There is some evidence linking cannabis use to the development of psychotic symptoms, but it is unclear whether use actually causes such symptoms.
People who start using cannabis early in adolescence or use it frequently are also more likely to develop a cannabis use disorder.
In NYC, CBD is prohibited in food and drinks. The Health Department is embargoing food and drink products that contain CBD, meaning the products will have to be returned to the supplier or discarded. The Health Department may issue violations to food service establishments and retailers for offering food or drink containing CBD.
If you are a food service operator, learn more about the laws on CBD sales.