Marijuana Allergies Become More Common

Stephen Andrews
15 Oct 2023

Some people sneeze because of cats, others because of weed. Cannabis can trigger allergic reactions just like any other plant, with the symptoms being the same as other pollen allergies. Symptoms of marijuana allergy may vary and can include skin outbreaks, hives, redness, sore throat, itchy eyes, and difficulty breathing. It would really depend on how you come in contact, whether you work directly with the plant, inhale or use edibles.

Marijuana allergy is considered to be rare, although, it is unknown exactly how many people are affected. In recent years, hospitals around the country have been dealing with an increased number of cases where patients complain of allergic reactions due to marijuana. Which is something to be expected with the spread of legalization. 

Those with a history of allergies are typically more prone to have a reaction after exposure to cannabis. The symptoms are pretty much the same as with other allergies: running nose, sneezing, wheezing, itchy and watery eyes, skin swelling, and shortness of breath. 

Smoking weed and direct exposure to plants, such as homegrowing or working in a cannabis factory, are more likely to set off an allergic response in those susceptible to allergies. The greater the exposure people have, the greater the reaction might be. Also, it’s not necessary that the reaction happens immediately. In many cases it takes time before the allergens build up in the body. 

The Reactions Would Vary Depending on Type of Exposure

What kind of allergic reaction is triggered would obviously depend on the person and how their body reacts to different types of contact. For example, smoking weed would typically induce symptoms in the respiratory tract, the nose, the throat, and also the eyes. Touching plant material or working with plants is more likely to lead to outbreaks on the skin. 

Some people are allergic to mold and may find out that they react to flower buds that were kept in a moist environment. Very often in this case, it’s not actually the weed that causes the problem, but the mold or fungus that may have grown onto it. 

In extremely rare cases, people can also experience anaphylaxis. That is the most severe allergic reaction of all which must be treated immediately. 

A case report from 2018 perfectly illustrates how a person may have different reactions depending on how they’re exposed to weed. The report describes a 24-year-old daily smoker of cannabis who had an anaphylactic reaction after eating yogurt with hemp seeds. 

The patient had a history of allergies to stoned fruits, nuts, sea food, and aeroallergens. In one instance, he developed hives or urticaria after having contact with cannabis plant material. In what was his first exposure to hemp seeds, it resulted in anaphylaxis. 

There are only a few known cases of anaphylaxis due to hemp seed ingestion. It’s pretty rare, but this case suggests it can happen. 

marijuana allergies, cannabis allergies

How to Distinguish Between Different Marijuana Allergies? 

Allergy symptoms would differ based on the type of exposure. Knowing what triggers the response may help minimize unwanted contact. 

Airborne Exposure

Pollen from weed travels in the air and may trigger reactions in those who are generally sensitive to pollen. Problems can also occur due to smoke, including exposure to secondhand smoke. Dust coming from industrial processing of hemp or cannabis can also result in allergy. 

The symptoms from airborne exposure usually include: 

  • Allergic rhinitis or hay fever (itchy, runny nose)
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Respiratory problems or asthma
  • Itchy, watery eyes

Skin contact

Touching or handling plant materials such as leaves or flowers can cause cannabis allergy that presents with issues on the skin. Some topicals, such as creams and oils containing CBD, can also cause flare-ups. 

Symptoms from skin contact include: 

  • Itching of the skin
  • Redness
  • Rash or hives (urticaria)
  • Dry, scaly skin 


While hemp seeds will rarely result in an allergic reaction, it’s more common to get one from eating edibles. In this case, the allergy can be due to the weed but it can also be due to other allergens found in the infused product. 

Symptoms from edibles ingestion include: 

  • Rash or hives
  • Skin swelling
  • Red eyes
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Difficulty speaking 

What Can You Do to Prevent Allergy Outbreaks?

There are a number of things you can do to control allergies if you work in the cannabis industry, or you are simply often exposed to smoke:

  • Take common medicines (antihistamines, decongestants) that can help prevent or treat symptoms. 
  • Improve room ventilation (use air purifier, keep windows open)
  • Wear protective gloves and a mask if your work consists of direct handling of cannabis plants. 

In case you are among those unlucky enough to develop serious allergies because of marijuana use, the best way to prevent it is to stop or pause consumption at least for a while. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

Can You Be Allergic to Cannabis?

Can CBD Help with Allergies?

- Why Does Weed Cause Red Eyes?

Stephen Andrews