Cannabis has generally remained under the radar of the allergenic community. Now in the fourth year of the recreational industry, cannabis allergies appear on the rise. Like most allergies, personal intolerances to cannabis can vary and not all consumers who have undesired experiences are allergic to cannabis.

Photo byDiyahna Lewis on Unsplash

Meaning it is important to differentiate between legitimate cannabis allergies compared to reactions of substances found in cannabis that are not actually inherent to the plant.

Mold is one of the main allergens not contributed by the plant’s genetic makeup; the presence of fungal contamination in cannabis has been studied by Steven L. Kagen, M.D, et all (Marijuana smoking and fungal sensitization). Found capable of putting consumers with a compromised immune system at risk for diseases, especially during our cold Canadian winters. When inhaled, the chances of inducing diseases depend primarily on the consumers’ innate immune and metabolic systems, the fungal organisms can cause a variety of lung disorders ranging from asthma to allergic bronchopulmonary and other invasive fungal infections.

The cannabis plant is a part of the same family as cannabaceae and rosales plants, related to ragweed, and has similar genetics to common allergenic trees. A study concluded by Thad L. Ocampo, MD, et all (Cannabis sativa: the unconventional “weed” allergen) in 2015-17 classified cannabis pollen as an aeroallergen implicated by allergic rhinitis. Cannabis pollen inhalation has been shown to cause allergic reactions in individuals who show sensitivity to pollen from other plants, causing symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hives), conjunctivitis, and asthma (coughing).

Another culprit was identified by  Pedro Gamboa, MD, Ph.D., et all, LTP’s (lipid transfer proteins) as a probable allergen (Sensitization to Cannabis sativa caused by a novel allergenic lipid transfer protein, Can s 3). This possible allergen is categorized as food syndrome which occurs due to the antigens similarities like fatty acids between LTP in cannabis and those found in plant foods; cherries, tangerines, peaches, grapefruit, apples, bananas, and tomatoes. Referred to as the mediators of sensitization by ingestion. Furthermore, sensitization to the LTP’s in fruits can cause a subsequent sensitization to cannabis, as sensitization is bidirectional.

One would think with the boom of the recreational industry the medical side of cannabis would’ve gained more attention and traction. But still epicutaneous (skin prick) tests are not currently standard for cannabis allergies, therefore the medical community deems it as a sensitization to cannabis. Again cannabis sensitivities can vary for each consumer and can occur via inhalation, secondhand exposure, ingestion, or even occupational handling. Access to legal cannabis without government-regulated resources has forced consumers to experiment with products and track their personal experiences or intolerances.

About the Author:

Sam (samantha andrea mae) is a freelance writer, budtending for the last two years. noticing the difference between consumer information and industry knowledge, she took to combining two passions; weed and writing. for more ways to incorporate cannabis into your daily life follow the.spinningpen on Instagram.