While cannabis is legal in the state of New Jersey, cannabis consumption is not safe for all New Jerseyans. For all users, understanding how formulations vary in potency and how potency affects the brain and the body is essential for safe and responsible consumption.
Buying cannabis legally ensures you are getting flower or products that have been produced to the highest standards of safety. Cannabis companies in New Jersey are held to some of the most rigorous standards for manufacturing, labeling, packaging, and testing in the country. Packaging is required to be child-resistant and clearly labeled for individuals above 21, with comprehensive product descriptions and recommended usage guidelines. All cannabis products sold at New Jersey dispensaries are tracked "from seed to sale," ensuring their continued safety through processing and packaging until they reach the consumer and they are all tested to ensure they contain no harmful contaminants. By keeping track of each product, adverse events can be identified and addressed promptly.
Click here to find a licensed cannabis dispensary.
Pregnancy and Cannabis Use
Although more scientific research is needed to better understand how cannabis affects pregnancy, the medical community strongly recommends anyone pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or who is breastfeeding not use any cannabis products. Those who are pregnant and nursing are putting their baby's health at risk with even the slightest use.
While some view cannabis as a safe, natural way to treat morning sickness, there is no evidence that it is an effective treatment, and its use comes with severe and potentially deadly risks. The chemicals in cannabis – particularly tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – can pass through the placenta to your baby and put you at risk of pregnancy complications. And it doesn't matter if you smoke a joint, eat a gummy, vape, or use a tincture. THC use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding will increase the risk of developing anemia for the parent and fetal growth restriction, low birth weight, long-term brain development issues, premature birth, or stillbirth. THC that passes to a baby through breast milk increases the baby's risk for problems with brain development.
Breathing in secondhand cannabis smoke can also be bad for you and your baby.
- MARIJUANA USE AND PREGNANCY (cdc.gov)
- Smoking During Pregnancy | Smoking and Tobacco Use | CDC
- Marijuana During Pregnancy - Know the Risks | SAMHSA
- Can marijuana use during and after pregnancy harm the baby? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
- Downloadable poster on cannabis and pregnancy
The Effects of Cannabis on Teens and Young Adults
Cannabis use can have short-term and long-term effects on kids and young adults, and its impact can differ from person to person. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) notes that cannabis "use beginning in teen years or younger may affect brain development which may impair thinking, memory, and learning.' Additionally, people were more likely to develop cannabis use disorder when their first use of cannabis occurred as an adolescent.
Some of the most severe consequences in the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s regulations are for licensed dispensaries that sell to non-patients under 21 years old. Both the CREAMM Act and the Commission’s regulations were written with protecting children as a high priority. Notably, penalties for providing minors with cannabis aren't just limited to licensed dispensaries. Adults who give cannabis to individuals under the legal age, or help them buy in any way, are also subject to these penalties.
Safe & Responsible Consumption
Adult cannabis use under safe and normal circumstances can have desirable effects. The goals for many cannabis users include feelings of well-being, mild disorientation, or increased appetite. The THC in cannabis is a psychoactive compound. It affects movement, balance, coordination, and judgement so safety is key to enjoying recreational cannabis while avoiding negative outcomes. Driving or operating any kind of heavy machinery while impaired is dangerous, and driving under the influence of any substance is illegal.
Keep Children and Pets Safe
Though typically not dangerous to adults, cannabis products can cause serious harm when accidentally ingested by children and pets. Keep cannabis and cannabis products sealed and far out of the reach of children. The signs of accidental ingestion in children may be similar to those in adults - altered consciousness, anxiety, drowsiness, and paranoia. In rare cases however - particularly in the event of ingestion of a large dose - young children may also experience depressed breathing or seizures, which does not typically happen in adult users.
Get medical attention immediately if you suspect your child has ingested cannabis.
Hemp-derived delta 8 THC
Hemp-derived delta-8 THC is a cannabinoid compound found in hemp plants, which is distinct from the more commonly known delta-9 THC found in cannabis. The regulation of hemp-derived delta-8 THC products varies by region, with some jurisdictions imposing strict limits or outright bans.
One of the main issues with these products is the lack of consistent regulation and oversight, leading to concerns about product quality, potency, and labeling accuracy. Hemp-derived delta-8 products, like those often found at gas stations, convenience stores, and smoke shops, are not regulated by the NJ-CRC.
There have been nationwide reports of adverse health effects associated with the use of delta-8 THC products, particularly those involving vaping Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advise against using THC-containing e-cigarette or vaping products from unlicensed sources.
Cannabis Safe-Use Basics
- Buy from licensed dispensaries.
- Carefully read the package for potency and dosage information.
- Start with a low dose THC product and wait to feel the full effects before having more - especially if you are a new user or haven’t used cannabis in a long time.
- Be aware that using cannabis along with alcohol, prescription medicines, other stimulants, and even some foods can impair more than any of them on their own.
- Tell your doctor and other healthcare providers about your cannabis use -- especially if you take prescription drugs.
- Keep cannabis and cannabis products in their original resealable packaging with clear labeling that identifies their THC content and potency.
- Store cannabis and cannabis products securely out of the reach of children.
- Do not use any cannabis products if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
- Avoid exposing others to secondhand smoke.
- Do not share your stash with anyone under 21 years old.
- Always use cannabis products in moderation.
Learn more: Safe and Responsible Cannabis Use
Storing Cannabis Safely
Cannabis and cannabis products purchased legally in New Jersey will be in resealable, child-resistant packaging. To keep children and pets even safer, lock away your cannabis out of reach. Keep edibles in clearly marked containers and away from other food to avoid accidental ingestion.
The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis is a psychoactive compound that affects movement, balance, coordination, and judgment - all important when you are behind the wheel. Driving while impaired – by anything – is dangerous and illegal. Driving requires our full attention, sound judgement, good bearings, alertness, and often, quick thinking. Using cannabis in any amount and form dulls all of that, just like alcohol does. It distorts perception and slows our reaction times; sometimes so imperceptibly we can’t tell until it’s too late. For your own safety, and the safety of others sharing the roads, don’t drive for several hours after you’ve used cannabis products.
Designated drivers aren’t just for a night at the bar.
Some Adverse Effects of Cannabis
Though they may vary widely by individual, some possible adverse effects (or signs of overconsumption) are extreme confusion, paranoia, anxiety or panic, extremely fast heart rate, increased blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, or hallucinations. Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome is a rare condition that can affect regular and long-term users - particularly those who have been consuming cannabis since adolescence. Anyone who experiences nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain whenever they consume cannabis (in any form) should contact their healthcare provider.
Cannabis and Prescription Medication
Cannabis can interact with your prescription medications in unexpected and harmful ways, or even render your medications ineffective. Some medications can increase cannabis concentration. Cannabis can increase the effects of some prescriptions. Other interactions can cause bleeding. Talk to your health care provider about your cannabis use if you are being prescribed medication. Be particularly careful if you are taking sedatives, anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, pain medications, or anti-seizure medications.
Avoid the Cross-fade
The effects of cannabis can be amplified by alcohol and other substances, and vice versa. Possible dangerous reactions of using multiple substances are significantly more than using any one substance alone. Greater impairment can result in physical harm.
Potency refers to the amount of THC present in a cannabis product. This amount will vary by product - with extracts (like wax) having the highest amount - but cannabis consumers who haven’t used in a long will find that even the flowers have significantly higher potency on average than they did 20 years ago.
Higher THC levels (or higher potency) may increase your chances of having an adverse reaction like extreme anxiety and paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations. That is why it’s important to start with low doses of THC or equitable THC:CBD ratios as you learn how your body reacts to cannabis use.
Products purchased in New Jersey dispensaries are required to have the amount of THC on the label. Most products will have that information as a percentage of the THC and CBD content.
Learn more: Using Cannabis Safely
Cannabis Terms You Should Know
THC: the substance in cannabis products that makes you high. The potency of cannabis and cannabis products is measured by the amount of THC it contains
Terpenes: the compounds in the cannabis plant that determine how it smells and tastes, and what its effects will be
CBD: The non-psychoactive cannabidiol is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis and cannabis products. Properly packaged cannabis products will include the THC to CBD/CBN ratio, which indicates how much CBD a product contains compared to the amount of THC.
Concentrates: The result of dissolving trichomes in a solvent to produce products with very high levels of THC that can consumed via a vape pen or dabbing.
Learn more: Cannabis 101
Start low. Go slow.
Take your time stepping into cannabis use. If you are new to cannabis or have not used it in a long time, start with a low THC dose and wait a couple of hours to see how your body handles it. Remember cannabis and cannabis products vary in how much time they take to have an effect. A high from smoking will happen faster than a high from having a weed brownie. Do not take more immediately.
Learn more: Cannabis 101
Understanding Cannabis Effects
Interactions with cannabis can vary widely – even for each individual. The effects of a flower strain you may be familiar with may be different on a day you haven’t eaten, had some alcohol, or took medication. Many factors can affect how cannabis is processed in your body and how you are affected physically.
All smoking risks damage to our lungs. Smoke kills the cells that remove dust and germs and causes excessive formation of mucus in the airway. Smokers are at increased risk for respiratory tract illness, and so are those exposed to secondhand smoke.
How You Consume Matters
How quickly and how long you might feel the effects of consuming cannabis will vary based on the product form and the method of consumption. Someone smoking a joint may feel the effects within minutes. Since it has to make its way through your digestive system, an edible may take an hour or two to have an effect, but it may result in a longer high.
In the event of accidental cannabis poisoning call New Jersey Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. Online: NJ Poison Control Center (njpies.org)
For help finding addiction treatment services call 1-844-REACHNJ (1-844-732-2465). Online: ReachNJ