Allergists have noticed a rise in the number of people reacting to an allergy to marijuana as the use of marijuana becomes legal in more states. Marijuana smoke can agitate asthma symptoms, and cause conjunctivitis and allergic rhinitis. Symptoms from a reaction to smoke inhalation can include inflammation of the eyes, coughing and wheezing, sneezing, nasal congestion, and even anaphylaxis. Pollen from cannabis can also trigger allergies; the pollen usually spreads later in the summer into the fall and can travel miles from the plant.
Not many cases of allergies to marijuana have historically been reported, probably since its use was largely illegal. Cases of patients with marijuana allergies are still rare, but allergists have noticed an increase in the number of patients exhibiting marijuana allergies. However, testing for the allergy can be difficult, depending on where you live. In Texas, for example, where marijuana is illegal, allergist Dr. David Engler was denied a request for a small sample of cannabis extract he needed for an allergy test for a patient with a potential marijuana allergy. In this case, Dr. Engler investigated the patient’s historical reaction to marijuana exposure to determine that she did have a marijuana allergy. Getting treatment coverage is also problematic since insurance companies don’t recognize marijuana allergies. If legalization of marijuana spreads to more states, we may see an even greater increase in cases of patients having marijuana allergies, but that will hopefully make it easier for allergists to test for it.
- “Marijuana Allergy is No Laughing Matter,” Allergy & Asthma Network
- “Can You Be Allergic to Marijuana?” U.S. News & World Report: Health