Just like many plants, marijuana plants may trigger allergic reactions in some people, according to a new review of previous studies. Cannabis allergies are rare. People who are allergic to the marijuana plant’s pollen or smoke may get symptoms such as a runny nose, inflammation of the nasal passages, and coughing and sneezing, according to the review. Some people who have touched marijuana have developed hives, and itching and swelling around the eyes. There have also been reports of asthma triggered by exposure to its pollen, according to the review.
For some marijuana users, it is not only the plant itself that may cause an allergic reaction. Pot can become very moldy when it is being stored, and people who are allergic to mold may have reactions, Parikh said.
There has been an increase in allergic reactions in areas where large quantities of marijuana plants are grown due to the pollen.
It may be best to avoid cannabis if you are allergic to plants of the Cannabaceae family.
A paper published this week by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology combines a wealth of research to prove that cannabis allergies are not only real, they’re potentially deadly. The condition, while “relatively uncommon,” grows increasingly more relevant as the legalization movement in the U.S. continues.
Those allergic to cannabis sativa can present a variety of symptoms ranging from asthma and eczema to conjunctivitis and anaphylaxis. Diagnosis of the allergy, which acts similarly to many others, is generally performed by a skin test.
- Freeman, G.L., M.D. “Allergic Skin Test Reactivity to Marijuana.” The Western Journal of Medicine. 1983 June; 138(6): 829–831. Stokes J.R., Hartel R., Ford L.B., Casale T.B.
- “Cannabis (hemp) positive skin tests and respiratory symptoms.” Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2000 September; 85(3): 238-40. Edited and updated by Chris Raymond, February 12, 2016