Marijuana may cause allergies, researchers say

By Oscar Pascual |

Marijuana could be just as harmful as peanuts and shellfish, in that it could cause allergic reactions in certain people, according to new research.

Researchers from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) recently completed a study looking into the possibility that pot could also be an allergen.

They found that cannabis can shed pollen just like any other flowering plant. The pollen can travel for several miles and can act as an allergen, bringing on symptoms of hay fever, pinkeye, and asthma.

Aside from the pollen, researchers were also interested in the possible allergenic properties of marijuana’s psychoactive compound, THC. While no concrete evidence was found, cannabis smoke exposure was shown to cause sinus infection, sore throat, and itchy eyes. Both pollen and smoke exposure also resulted in cases of nasal congestion, sneezing, and coughing.

Even just being around pot could cause allergic reactions. During research, one patient required antihistamine treatment after eating seafood containing hemp seeds. Another patient suffered occupational asthma, exposing himself to hemp seeds while working as a bird breeder.

While marijuana allergies sounds like a setback to legalization, it’s actually a good reason why it should be legal. ACAAI researchers say that marijuana hasn’t been researched frequently enough in medical literature despite its popularity. This could be due to the fact that pot’s Schedule I classification makes it illegal for researchers to obtain federal funding for their studies. Ending prohibition would open the doors to further studies.

Don’t be too concerned if you catch a cold from hitting a blunt, however. Researchers suggest treating a weed allergy like any other normal allergy. While avoiding weed altogether would be ideal, over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal decongestants can easily knock out those pot sniffles.

Photo via Flickr/missrogue