Stories of cannabis allergies have been emerging at a growing rate since legalization and reveal that they can frequently strike down budtenders, recreational consumers, and medical patients with a variety of symptoms.
Pollen, the most common allergen, is a powder released by trees, grasses, and weeds to fertilize the seeds of neighboring plants. Mold, somewhat differently, is a spore that grows on rotting logs, dead leaves, and grasses. While dry-weather mold species exist, many types of mold thrive in moist conditions. Perhaps not so shockingly, given that both these allergens are associated with cannabis, researchers in Belgium recently published an article entitled “Emerging allergens: Cannabis.” The researchers focused in particular on cannabis sativa, one of the two species we all know colloquially as marijuana. They found that the plant can cause a number of allergic symptoms such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), conjunctivitis (pink eye), skin rashes, and asthmatic symptoms when smoked, inhaled, or chewed.
Your body views allergens as a threat. While it works to protect against foreign bacteria and threats, your immune system will also cause a number of reactions or allergic responses. There are a few risk factors that could increase your likelihood of developing a cannabis allergy. Although the plant is known for anti-inflammatory properties, cannabis can cause a number of symptoms if it’s inhaled.Stay on the lookout for these symptoms of weed allergy, so you can be extra careful to avoid exposure if indeed you have the misfortune of being allergic to marijuana.
If you smoke and you have a weed allergy, you may experience:
- Dyspnea, or labored breathing, is a common symptom of a weed allergy. This could happen to you even if you didn’t smoke or otherwise inhale any of the marijuana, though some people turning up with this symptom have worked around hemp used in textiles too.
- skin irritation (itchiness, inflamed, red skin, hives, dry, scaly skin)
- Conjunctivitis, good old pink eye. Weed can do it to you if you’re allergic!
- congestion or sneezing, this is when the lining of your nose becomes inflamed, such as due to exposure to an allergen like weed. Predictable consequences include congestion, sneezing, stuffiness, runny nose, and post-nasal drip. All that congestion can easily give you a headache.
- Itchiness, it’s not normal to feel intensely itchy after exposure to marijuana (or ever, really). This is a big red flag.
- hay fever
- nausea or vomiting
In more severe cases, an allergic reaction to cannabis can cause anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition that causes your blood pressure to suddenly drop and your airways to close. If left untreated, a marijuana allergy could be fatal.
It’s also worth noting that for some allergens, people aren’t born with the allergic reaction; instead, allergies may develope over time after repeated contact with the allergen. These encounters may gradually sensitize some people to a potential allergen, although we don’t fully understand why yet. That means even if you’ve had no trouble with marijuana allergies in the past, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that you might have trouble with them in the future.
Preventing an allergic reaction
The best way to prevent having an allergic reaction to marijuana is to avoid it. If you’re using medical marijuana or smoking it recreationally, doctors recommend you stop to avoid a severe reaction.
If you work with the cannabis plant regularly for work, doctors recommend wearing gloves, face masks, and using allergy medication to help reduce or prevent symptoms. Doctors also recommend carrying an inhaler in case the marijuana pollen affects your breathing.
Can I Still Use Cannabis If I am Allergic?
This is the question of every pot smoker at this moment. The people who noticed a cannabis allergy or already have an allergy and want to take medical marijuana due to a medical condition, there is hope. Scientists discovered that THC has nothing to do with the allergic reactions. The best option to get your medicine if you’re allergic is to use edibles or topical products. Vaporizers are also a good option because you don’t inhale the smoke only the vapors full with THC. But if you want to do it the classic way, (this means you want to enjoy a blunt) you must take your problem further to a specialist. The only solution to your bodies immune system regarding the allergy, is to slowly inject it with the pollen or the substance which cause the allergy.
So basically weed may help you to deal with pain, unless it causes it.