Weed Allergy Symptoms and Treatment

Some people are allergic to marijuana

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Could you have a marijuana allergy? Is it possible to be allergic to weed or pot? Whether you are new to medicinal marijuana (or legal recreational marijuana) or have used it in the past without a problem, it is quite possible to have a marijuana allergy.

Let's take a look at the symptoms of a weed allergy, allergy to edibles, the challenges of diagnosing the allergy, and what you can do if you have one.

marijuana allergy symptoms

Verywell / Cindy Chung

Symptoms

For some people, a marijuana allergy can cause a skin reaction that's induced by touching or handling the plant or its flowers.

Symptoms of skin irritation might include:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Rash or hives
  • Dry, scaly skin

There is also some evidence that marijuana might be an airborne allergen, with some individuals becoming sensitized after inhalation of marijuana pollen or after inhaling airborne hemp dust from industrial processing of the plant.

Airborne allergy symptoms from marijuana can include:

  • Rhinitis or hay fever (itchy, runny nose)
  • Nasal congestion
  • sore throat
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma

Allergic Reactions to Edibles

Marijuana edibles have become more available for medicinal use, and there are regions in the US where they are legal for all users.

While it is rare, there are reported cases of anaphylaxis reactions from eating hemp seeds. The symptoms can include eye redness or swelling, rash or hives, skin swelling, shortness of breath, and difficulty speaking.

Causes

Many types of pollen from plants, such as ragweed, flowers, and trees, can cause have allergic reactions for some people. Marijuana flowers also produce pollen that can cause these reactions for people who are sensitive, and the reaction can affect the skin or respiratory system.

It is possible to have an allergic reaction from eating marijuana seeds or marijuana edibles, with symptoms that can include rashes and swelling. Sometimes an allergy to other foods can cross-react with marijuana and vice versa.

Allergies to tomatoes, peaches, bananas, citrus, grapefruit, eggplant, almonds, and chestnuts have been seen to cross-react with marijuana in various studies.

Marijuana Use and Sensitization to Other Allergens

It appears that smoking marijuana may sensitize people (stimulate them to develop an allergy) to other allergens.

In one study, marijuana use was associated with the development of allergies to mold, dust mites, plants, and cat dander.

Diagnosis

In most cases, your healthcare provider would make the diagnosis of marijuana allergy based on your description of your exposure and symptoms.

Skin testing is the way for allergy specialists to pinpoint an allergy. These tests aren't standardized for marijuana allergy testing, but in theory, your allergist could prepare an extract or slurry using the leaves, buds, and flowers of the plant and perform a standard prick test. This isn't a typical way of identifying a marijuana allergy, and your allergist may consider it if there is serious concern about the cause, effects, and treatment of your allergy.

Treatment

If you suspect that you have developed a marijuana allergy, it is generally best to avoid the plant altogether.

If you have been using marijuana for medicinal purposes, you should speak with your healthcare provider and seek professional medical advice. They might suggest alternative treatment options for your condition that won't cause allergic reactions.

If you are unable to avoid marijuana exposure from an airborne exposure that you have no control over, discuss options for treating your allergy with your healthcare provider. They might recommend that you use antihistamines or decongestants for preventing or treating symptoms such as a runny nose and red eyes.

For symptoms of an anaphylactic type of reaction, seek immediate emergency medical care. These reactions can be life-threatening and need to be treated promptly.

You may need to carry an Epi-pen in the future if you are diagnosed with an anaphylactic type of reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you be allergic to marijuana?

    Yes. Allergic reactions have been seen in some people who inhale, touch, or eat marijuana or cannabis products. Symptoms and severity vary based on how serious your allergy is and what form of cannabis you’re exposed to, and it may cause a rash, swelling, breathing problems, sneezing, or itchy eyes.

  • Can marijuana cause anaphylaxis?

    Yes, but it's rare and has mainly been found to occur when someone with an allergy eats hemp seeds. 

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ocampo, T., and T. Rans. Cannabis sativa: The unconventional “weed” allergenAnnals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2015;114(3):187–192. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2015.01.004.

  2. Stadtmauer G, Beyer K, Bardina L, Sicherer SH. Anaphylaxis to ingestion of hempseed (Cannabis sativa). J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003;112(1):216-7. doi:10.1067/mai.2003.1591 

  3. Min JY, Min KB. Marijuana use is associated with hypersensitivity to multiple allergens in US adults. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018;182:74-77. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.09.039

  4. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Marijuana cannabis allergy.

  5. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Marijuana cannabis allergy. Updated September 28, 2020.

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