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Marijuana Allergy: Risk Factors and Symptoms

With the legalization of marijuana in many states, it’s evident that many people are getting in contact with it. Similarly, as consumption of marijuana is trickling towards the mainstream in the US, cannabis allergies have been attracting increased attention from researchers. Stories of cannabis allergies have been emerging at an alarming rate, and the correlation between the rise in allergies and increase in legalization is surely significant.

This might sound like heresy, but experts agree that cannabis can lead to deathly allergies.

In the article below, we shed more light on the marijuana allergy, including its risk factors and symptoms.

What Causes Marijuana Allergy?

However, when it comes to marijuana allergy, there’re a few risk factors likely to exacerbate the likelihood of developing a cannabis allergy.

The factors include;


Regular exposure to the marijuana plant can lead to an allergy. Similar to ragweed, Russian thistle, and cocklebur, marijuana also produces pollen during the peak season. This type of allergy is common in regions with high density of pot plant growing.

Since the marijuana pollen is typically quite similar to other types of plant pollen, the allergy might only be seasonal and is accompanied by mild symptoms such as a runny nose, red eyes, sneezing and post-nasal drip.

Allergen Cross-Reactivity

Cannabis LTP(s) is likely the cause and key to marijuana allergy. A study conducted back in 2007 indicated the presence of LTP in growing the plant.

LTP is an important protein allergen in plant and fruit allergies. However, further research indicates that the plant food allergy in patients with documented marijuana allergy had more severe reactions than patients without cannabis allergy.

This is to mean that marijuana allergies are more prevalent to those allergic to the plant and food protein because cannabis use leads to cannabis allergies with sensitization to nonspecific LTP.

This is known as allergy cross-reaction and may result in various plant-food allergies.

Some of the foods with similar allergen properties as the cannabis plant are;

  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Bananas
  • Almond and chestnuts

Marijuana is dioecious, meaning it grows male and female parts. Many marijuana growers prefer the female plant because they grow more buds, which are the lowers that can be smoked recreationally.

However, isolating the male and female plants, with the aim of preventing pollination, increases the plant’s psychoactive properties by raising its TCH content. As a result, the potency of cannabis has really increased over the years, and tragically, this has played a role in allergic disease because THC has been suggested as a potential cannabis allergen. When grown in bulk, THC content increases and can affect your sensitivity to the plant.

TCH, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical compound in the cannabis flower that creates the euphoric high.

False Cannabis Allergy

It’s also important that you learn to differentiate between true cannabis allergic reactions and other allergic reactions to substances not inherent to the cannabis plant such as mold or dust mites.

Poorly grown and poorly-stored cannabis is known to contain high amounts of mold and dust mites, both which are known to cause allergic conditions on their own to many individuals.

This might sound quite disturbing, but if so some reasons the marijuana bud is not dried or cured properly, it could contain traces of mold. Similarly, just like leaving bread uneaten for too long can develop mold and bacteria, so can your marijuana.

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)

Many people often think that new cannabis users are the only ones susceptible to marijuana allergy. However, research tends to disagree; if you’ve been a chronic user of marijuana, you probably know the meaning of the term Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a form of cannabinoid toxicity that is common in chronic smokers. This form of allergy is characterized by cyclic episodes of vomiting, diarrhea, and debilitating nausea.

Studies indicate that the allergy might be as a result of the body developing intolerance to the drug.

In most cases, however, taking a hot shower can “wash” the CHS symptoms away. The symptoms also stop after cessation of cannabis use.

Symptoms of Marijuana Allergy

Even though marijuana allergy is a rare case, and there’s not much information about it, when it does occur, it has similar signs and symptoms as those of common plants and foods.

Some of the symptoms of marijuana allergy include;

  • Red eyes
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Hay fever
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Rask
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Respiratory conditions such as asthma
  • A sore throat

Find out more about marijuana and asthma in the video below:

Diagnosis of Marijuana Allergy

As you can see, the above marijuana symptoms overlap with what can be seen in other allergies. Therefore, to accurately determine the marijuana allergy, you need to see a professional.

Your physician will perform a skin prick test, and this will show whether or not you’re sensitive to marijuana. Aside from the skin prick test, your physician can also use a blood serum test to determine your sensitivity.

However, if the above tests are not available, your doctor will need to make the diagnosis the traditional way and based on your report of your exposure and symptoms.

Avoiding Marijuana Allergy

A sure way to avoid cannabis allergy is by staying away from the drug. If you work in a marijuana factory, ensure that you wear protective gear, and also use allergy medication to help reduce or prevent symptoms.

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