Marijuana allergy cases are on the rise. Many people are finding that they are allergic to the hemp pollen, marijuana leaves, and the smoke these plants produce.
Can you be allergic to weed? Yes. Just like birch trees and ragweed, marijuana plants can trigger an allergic reaction in some people, according to a new review of previous marijuana studies. As more states continue to legalize medical and recreational marijuana, allergy concerns are becoming a major issue.
If you’ve been following marijuana in the news, you may have read reports (like those published on MJWellness) that marijuana allergies are on the rise. Some people are allergic to the plant’s pollen, while others are allergic to the smoke it emits.
But how common are marijuana allergies, and what are the symptoms?
Marijuana Allergies on the Rise
Medical experts do note that marijuana allergies, while relatively uncommon, are being reported at an increased rate. Many speculate that allergies to cannabis plants are underreported because of the plant’s illegal status. Now that more states are legalizing the drug, and the stigma around cannabis use is declining, the theory goes, more people are comfortable reporting their allergic reactions.
Marijuana Allergy Symptoms
What symptoms would you experience if you’re allergic to marijuana?
Many people experience the following:
- Runny nose
- Eye itching and swelling
- Coughing and sneezing
- Inflammation of the nasal passage
In one extreme case, a patient ate a piece of seafood with a hemp seed crust and experienced an extreme reaction: anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is potentially fatal and affects the entire body. Through testing, it was later concluded that the seafood was not the cause of the allergic reaction.
In another case, another person experienced anaphylaxis after using marijuana intravenously (a method of administration we recommend against).
Allergy symptoms can arise unexpectedly. In one case, a man who was once able to smoke pot regularly suddenly developed hives after touching a marijuana plant. A bird breeder developed symptoms after feeding his birds hemp seeds.
Mold Allergy Concerns
In some cases, it’s not just the plant that causes allergic reactions—growing and storage conditions can result in mold growth. Those with mold allergies may develop adverse allergic reactions.
Two studies on allergy symptoms were conducted in Omaha, Nebraska, where hemp cultivation was allowed until passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. An early study, published in 1940, found that over 22% of the 119 patients participating in the study were allergic to hemp pollen.
The more recent study, conducted in 2000, found that 67% of the 127 patients were allergic to the hemp plant.
Those who live in areas where marijuana plants are grown in abundance are more likely to develop an allergic reaction, as the quantity plays a major role in allergy prevalence.