Cannabis Information for Consumers


The Medical Cannabis Program certifies patients for the consumption and home cultivation of medical cannabis if deemed appropriate by a New York State healthcare provider. Medical cannabis is often recommended to alleviate several health conditions, including:

  • Nausea in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy
  • Lack of appetite for patients with chronic conditions like AIDS
  • Chronic pain -- especially neuropathic pain
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Certain mental health conditions – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, etc.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Or any other condition that a certified provider considers clinically appropriate

However, consumption of cannabis includes potential health risks, including:

  • Lung damage, when smoked
  • Exacerbated chronic bronchitis
  • Cannabis use disorder (CUD)
  • Attention and memory problems
  • Cardiovascular problems, such as stroke or heart attack
  • Psychosis, anxiety, or paranoia
  • Low birth weight or altered brain development in infants - for individuals who are pregnant or chestfeeding

Please talk to a provider if you have questions about cannabis or are wondering whether medical cannabis may help you.

Teens and Young Adults

Studies have shown that brain development is not complete until age 25. Adolescence is a critical period of brain development, especially for parts of the brain responsible for cognition (learning, attention, etc.), memory, decision-making, and emotional regulation. These parts of the brain have many endocannabinoid receptors, so cannabinoids like THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, can play an influential role in how they function.

Cannabis use during this pivotal period of development increases the chances of short-term and long-term negative impacts on these parts of the brain. It also may increase the risk of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and serious mental illnesses like psychotic disorders.

Under a provider's certification and care, medical cannabis may be available to patients younger than 21.

  • As a parent or guardian, it is important to be aware of the effects cannabis consumption during adolescence can have on your child's brain and mental health. It's also important to learn how to effectively talk about these risks with your children.

    Pregnant and Breastfeeding

    There's no known safe amount of cannabis use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its first official guidelines, advising women who are pregnant or nursing to avoid cannabis use. Like many other substances, cannabis consumed by a pregnant person can be passed to the baby. It is important to remember that cannabis smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, which are known to be harmful during pregnancy.

    Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both the baby and the parent. THC and other chemicals in cannabis consumed while breastfeeding can be passed through breastmilk to a baby also.

    Studies show that cannabis use during pregnancy may be harmful to a baby's health and cause a variety of problems with their development. If you choose to continue using cannabis, it is recommended that you reduce both how much and how often you use until research tells us more. Talk to your doctor if you use cannabis for medical reasons. There may be other, safer choices to treat medical problems during pregnancy.

    Cannabis Use Disorder

    Cannabis consumption becomes problematic when it starts to have negative impacts an individual's life. Continued problematic cannabis consumption can lead to a condition called Cannabis Use Disorder. Some common signs of Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) include:

    • Craving cannabis
    • Needing to consume more cannabis to get the same high
    • Consuming more cannabis than intended or spending a lot of time using cannabis
    • Consuming cannabis even though it causes problems at home, at school, or at work
    • Continuing to consume cannabis despite physical, psychological, social or relationship problems
    • Giving up important activities with family or friends in favor of using cannabis
    • Consuming cannabis in high-risk situations, like while driving a car
    • Trying but being unable to cut down or stop consuming cannabis when you want
    • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stopping the consumption of cannabis

    Consuming cannabis daily or almost every day can increase your risk of Cannabis Use Disorder.

    Talk to a health care provider or a substance use counselor if you think your cannabis use is disrupting your daily life or you are having difficulty cutting down on or stopping cannabis consumption. You can also call the Office of Addiction Services and Supports' 24/7 HOPE Line at 1-877-8-HOPENY (467369) or text HOPENY (467369) or visit to learn more about addiction treatment.