Ask Dr. Mike: Cannabis Allergies?

Ask Dr. Mike: Cannabis Allergies?

Q: Can I be allergic to cannabis?
A: Yes you can be allergic to pretty much anything…food, bees, animals and especially plants. There are a number of things in the cannabis plant you can be allergic to: pollen, terpenes, smoke, etc.

Q: What is an allergy?
A: An allergy is an immune response from your body to a foreign substance. Your immune system creates antibodies to fight foreign invaders such as viruses. However, sometimes these antibodies will randomly stick to something oddly specific like pollen or cat dander. When this happens your body has an allergic reaction.

Q: What are symptoms of cannabis allergies?
A: There a ton of different symptoms for cannabis allergies. They can include nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, red eyes/pink eye, itchy nose, itchy eyes, itchy ears, hives, rashes, hay fever, asthma, swelling, difficulty breathing, difficulty talking.

Q: What is the most common cause of cannabis allergies?
A: Pollen. Just like spring allergies when all of the plants are pollinating, you can have an allergic reaction to cannabis pollen. Especially if you are near an area where large amounts of cannabis is being grown or processed.

Q: Why are cannabis allergies becoming more common?
A: More people are becoming exposed to cannabis. As more states legalize cannabis both medically and recreationally the more new consumers are going to try cannabis. Unfortunately some of them will find out they are allergic to it. There is also a lot more cannabis being grown. This means there is more dust, pollen and other allergens being put into the air. People working in the cannabis industry, where large quantities of plant material is being processed, are at the highest risk for developing cannabis allergies.

Q: Is moldy cannabis giving me allergies?
A: First you should never smoke cannabis that has visible mold on it or smells rotten or acrid. Mold and fungus will not give you an allergic reaction…worse they will make you sick. Mold spores can survive harsh conditions such as being burned. So when you smoke moldy weed, the spores are making their way into your lungs where they can cause respiratory infections. In some cases you can catch pneumonia.

Q: What are some Potential health consequences from smoking moldy Cannabis?
A: Smoking moldy cannabis can give you a respiratory infection or pneumonia. Symptoms of smoking moldy cannabis can be headache, fatigue, weakness, light sensitivity, cough, chest pain, dizziness, mood swings and fever.

Q: What happens if I smoke cannabis with pesticides?
A: We still don’t know the full health implications of consuming pesticide laced cannabis. We know that certain pesticides are very bad when you smoke them. Myclobutanil for instance has been known to give people headache, rash, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, nose bleed and eye irritation. Additionally, when burned myclobutanil is converted into hydrogen cyanide which is what secret agents take to commit suicide before they are captured.

Q: Should I be worried about pesticides in my cannabis?
A: If you are buying from the black market then yes! However, if you live in a legal state that requires screening for pesticide contamination you are probably fine. Many of the states have set the limits for pesticides in cannabis several times lower than the produce you’d buy from the grocery store.

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