As more parts of the world move to legalize marijuana, medical experts want to make people aware that those piercing red eyes that they get when coming into contact with weed could be an allergic reaction.
Although cannabis allergies were once a rarity, they are becoming more prevalent. It estimated that somewhere around 10 percent of cannabis users have some sort of sensitivity to the plant. Most of the symptoms are mild. But for some, the end result can be deadly.
“The more people that are exposed to marijuana, the more likely we are to see allergies,” Dr. Gordon Sussman, an allergist and immunologist, told CTV News. “Marijuana allergy can potentially be very severe — potentially, it can cause life-threatening reactions just like a peanut allergy.”
Those afflicted with a cannabis allergy can experience symptoms long before the time of consumption.
Dr. Sussman says sometimes simply touching the plant or the various products derived from it can be enough to spawn an allergic reaction. Some of the most common symptoms are red and watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing. But there have been reports of people experiencing nausea and vomiting. On the more severe side, full-blown anaphylactic shock has been known to erupt. The entire situation can be quite a buzz kill.
“Skin symptoms are generally from touching it,” Sussman said. “You can sometimes see itchy skin and hives and you can sometimes see swelling of the eye if you touch your eye after touching the marijuana plant.
“Respiratory symptoms can be nasal running and sneezing with associated itchy, watery eyes,” he added. Occasionally you’ll see wheezing, shortness of breath and asthmatic reactions. Anaphylactic symptoms generally occur with hempseed (or eating marijuana products)… Potentially, any anaphylactic event can be serious and life-threatening.”
The good news is it is easy to determine whether a person has an allergy to marijuana. A basic skin prick test at a doctor’s office should reveal whether weed poses any kind of health threat. According to Healthline, cannabis allergies can be more problematic for those people allergic to foods that contain similar attributes. So it is possible for someone with an allergy to various fruits and vegetables to be at a greater risk an allergy to weed.
Unfortunately, there is no magic cure for those suffering from this ultra- sensitivity to the cannabis plant. Dr. Sussman says the only way to truly prevent a bad reaction is to avoid all things marijuana.
For those working in the cannabis industry, experts recommend, “Wearing gloves, face masks, and using allergy medication to help reduce or prevent symptoms.”