Marijuana: The allergen you never knew existed

Growing up, you may have been given reasons for not smoking marijuana. What you may not have heard is that marijuana, like other pollen-bearing plants, is an allergen which can cause allergic responses.

A new article published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), summarizes research on the ways in which cannabis can act as an allergen. The article draws attention to allergic responses that may be unfamiliar to marijuana users. Included in the article is information on case reports regarding episodes of allergic reactions, hypersensitivity and even anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) to cannabis in its various forms. Among other things, cannabis pollen or cannabis smoke exposure has resulted in symptoms of (hay fever) conjunctivitis and asthma. Allergic asthma triggered by seasonal and occupational exposure to cannabis has also been reported.

The authors of the article point out that cannabis' legal status may create barriers for accurate and clear patient reporting, and that legal limitations may pose diagnostic challenges. As with other allergens, the authors say that avoidance is recommended. Marijuana's legal status in the United States is changing, making information about cannabis allergy timely and noteworthy. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, and four states have legalized for recreational use.

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More information: Cannabis Sativa: The Unconventional "Weed" Allergen, Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 2015.
Provided by American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
Citation: Marijuana: The allergen you never knew existed (2015, March 3) retrieved 16 October 2019 from
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Mar 09, 2015
Judging by the votes, I think a lot of people see this as a hit piece. But a responsible smoker of any substance should pay attention to the harm it does to other people. I've known many people who, despite not caring about people smoking, cannot be in the room with the smoke without having an asthma event, getting a migraine, or having sinus issues.

At the end of the day, it's a plant, and it's being burned, and many people are susceptible to both plants and smoke from the burning there-of.

As much as I like the smell of pot smoke, I despise the smell of cigarette smoke, and while I don't equate the two things as the same, I can sympathize with people who are bothered by it.

Not really mentioned, but the tiny crystals and whatnot on the surface of marijuana plant matter are also a skin irritant. You should always be wearing gloves if you are handling it for large amounts of time, and a respirator probably wouldn't hurt.

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