It is possible to be allergic to cannabis but cannabis allergies are rarely serious
The most common symptoms are respiratory issues and skin reactions
If you experience an adverse reaction after consuming cannabis, avoid further exposure
Allergists can diagnose cannabis allergy using skin prick tests
Anaphylaxis, a dangerous reaction to cannabis involving difficulty breathing, is extremely rare
Over 50 million people in United States experience various types of allergies yearly. [Source]
People are allergic to all sorts of things, especially plants, and cannabis is not an exception. Luckily, cannabis allergies are typically not very serious, and they are not especially common.
If you are thinking about trying cannabis and have other allergies, you may need to take some precautions. But don´t worry! Many people who have allergies have no issues with cannabis and can enjoy all the benefits of the plant.
Interested in learning about the symptoms of cannabis allergies, how they are treated, and how to prevent them? Read on for a thorough analysis of the causes of marijuana allergies and the best tips to avoid experiencing a negative reaction.
Can You Be Allergic to Marijuana?
Like many other common plants, marijuana contains allergens that can cause adverse reactions. Fortunately, cannabis allergy is considered rare. [Source]
The plant is most often consumed through inhalation or ingestion, and the most common symptoms of cannabis allergy are respiratory issues and skin reactions. The rarest occurrence is anaphylactic shock, a dangerous respiratory condition.
Before the wave of marijuana legalization in the United States, there wasn´t much research into cannabis allergy. Now scientists are beginning to study allergic reactions, and it is likely that the pharma industry will soon develop products that can help allergic patients. For the time being, if you find out that you are allergic, the best thing to do is avoid contact with cannabis.
Common Symptoms Of Marijuana Allergy
Recognizing the symptoms of cannabis allergy is the most important step. To be on the safe side, stop consuming marijuana as soon as you detect an adverse reaction.
So, how can you tell if you are allergic to cannabis? The pollen of cannabis flower is responsible for the most common type of marijuana allergy. The symptoms of this type of allergy are similar to the symptoms of hay fever.
Cannabis allergy symptoms can also result from direct contact of the plant material with the skin. In this case, they resemble the symptoms of dermatitis.
Cannabis Pollen Allergy Symptoms
Cannabis Contact Allergy Symptoms
Cannabis Ingestion Allergy Symptoms
This has been observed only rarely, but it is worth knowing about it. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that requires emergency medical attention. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, anaphylactic shock “most commonly occurs with hempseed ingestion.” This means that the chances of experiencing this type of severe allergic symptoms from smoking marijuana or consuming cannabis edibles are significantly lower.
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How Is Marijuana Allergy Diagnosed?
Though a marijuana allergy test is yet to be developed, allergists often use skin prick tests to determine if you are allergic to the plant´s buds, flowers, or leaves. The doctor will typically prepare a cannabis extract and observe what happens after contact with your skin. If the skin turns red or you get a rash or a similar reaction, the test is positive, and you get a marijuana allergy diagnosis.
What Can Cause an Allergy to Cannabis?
Virtually any type of contact with cannabis and a variety of marijuana products can cause an allergic reaction. The most common types of contact resulting in allergy symptoms include
Cannabis flower pollen interacting with your respiratory system
Inhaling marijuana smoke
Eating cannabis-infused edibles
Your skin coming in contact with any part of the cannabis plant
Secondhand smoke when you are next to someone who is smoking marijuana
Dust from industrial processing of hemp and marijuana
Other types of contact during the production process, including contact with mold from cannabis storage
Can I Prevent an Allergic Reaction to Cannabis?
The only way to prevent an allergic reaction to cannabis is to avoid exposure. An allergist can help you determine what kind of allergy you have and what kind of contact you should avoid. In the case of cannabis industry workers, when they handle the cannabis plant and its subproducts, they should be wearing masks, gloves, and other self-protective gear.
Because severe allergic reactions, though extremely rare, can occur, you should not consume or come in contact with marijuana if you have previously had symptoms. Consult with a specialist before attempting to consume marijuana after a reaction.
Is There a Treatment for Cannabis Allergy?
The only available treatment as of today is to avoid exposure. If you have a serious allergy, your doctor may advise you to carry an epinephrine auto-injector. Immunology research could lead to the development of new treatments in the future, but avoidance is currently the safest way to go.
Is a Marijuana Allergy Common?
While there is no definite data about marijuana allergy prevalence, US News reports that an estimated 10% of cannabis users may be allergic to it.
There is a higher risk for cannabis allergy in the case of patients who already have other allergies. If you have a predisposition to allergies, you could also be allergic to cannabis. The good news is that most of those allergies are mild, so mild that many who have been diagnosed are still consuming marijuana. This is not to say that consuming cannabis with an allergy is safe. You should consult with your allergist to learn how to prevent marijuana allergy reactions.
Can You Be Allergic to The Smell of Marijuana?
Yes, though this is not the most common type of marijuana allergy. The smell is carried by airborne particles. If you are very allergic to cannabis, you can develop an allergic reaction from merely smelling it.
Can You Be Allergic to CBD or THC?
The main allergens in the marijuana plant are not cannabinoids like CBD or THC. All that said, because both CBD and THC products may contain those allergens, you can be allergic to both types of cannabis products.
Can You Be Allergic to cannabis terpenes?
Certain terpenes (responsible for taste and smell) in marijuana products may also cause allergic reactions, for example, linalool and D-limonene. [Source]
Can CBD Help Treat Allergies?
Several studies have shown that CBD can help reduce airway inflammation and other symptoms associated with allergies. One 2018 study found that CBD “reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma.” [Source]
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, consult with your doctor and your cannabis patient care specialist to determine whether CBD products can help treat your condition.
Serious cannabis allergies are rare. As legalization fosters more widespread consumption, researchers are paying more attention to marijuana allergies and how to prevent them. Undoubtedly, over the coming decades, we are going to see more research into the allergens in cannabis and how to prevent adverse respiratory and dermatological reactions.
For the time being, if you experience any symptoms, just avoid exposure and consult with an allergist. Science is only beginning to understand the incredible benefits of the cannabis plant, and one can only hope that scientists will soon find ways to enable even allergic people to enjoy them.
To know more about safe cannabis consumption, you can always contact your nearest Rise dispensary and consult with one of our friendly experts.