Cannabis and allergies

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“But what about that guy who ended up being allergic to cannabis?

I hear this question at least once a week when I talk to others about cannabis. It seems everyone has heard the story of a cannabis user who was hospitalized with severe vomiting that didn’t stop until he discontinued using cannabis. It’s only one story, but it’s memorable enough to cause concern among potential users. No one wants to end up in the hospital vomiting uncontrollably.

So the easy response to this concern is “yes.” I’ve heard about that story and it is possible for people to be allergic to cannabis. Just as people can be allergic to other plants like pine, grasses, mold, and pollen, people can also be allergic to the cannabis plant.

If you are already an “allergic person” or have a history of asthma, it stands to reason that there is a (small) possibility you might also be allergic to cannabis. If you have a cannabis allergy, after using the product you may experience symptoms similar to seasonal allergies including: red and watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, sneezing, nausea, and of course, the big one – vomiting.

Cannabis allergies can also cause rashes when the plant is handled. Some of the most common skin irritations include: itchiness, inflamed red skin, hives, and dry scaly skin.

In more severe allergic cases, there is the possibility of anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition that causes your blood pressure to suddenly drop and your airways to close.

Cannabis allergies are seen more often if you’re already allergic to a food or substance with similar protein properties. Some foods with similar allergen properties as the cannabis plant include: nightshades (tomato, eggplant), peaches, apples, bananas, grapefruit, almonds and chestnuts.

What does this mean for you if you have allergies and you want to try cannabis?

*If* you have an allergic history, it would be best to go low for your first dose of cannabis. Just like a new body cream instructs you to try a small amount on your skin before using it all over to see if you will react, if you are concerned about an allergic reaction to cannabis then begin with a very small starting dose.

And then watch to see if you have any allergic symptoms. If you have a reaction then treat it as you would other allergies (over the counter anti-histamines can help, along with an inhaler if there is lung involvement) and stop using cannabis until you talk with a professional.

Of course if you have an anaphylactic reaction to the cannabis, get medical help immediately.

While it is possible to have an allergy to cannabis, I know of no person in my circle of people who use cannabis who has actually had an allergic reaction. So while an allergy to cannabis is a condition you should be aware of, when you begin to use cannabis you probably won’t need to spend too much time worrying about ending up in the hospital with uncontrolled vomiting.

Wendy E. N. Thomas is a New Hampshire State Representative-Elect for Hillsborough District 21. She is also in the NH Therapeutic Cannabis program. Wendy agrees with the State-wide Democratic platform of legalizing cannabis in New Hampshire, she would also like to see the Therapeutic Cannabis program expanded to include Anxiety, Lyme Disease, and insomnia (for starters.)

Wendy also understands that people need to know about what cannabis can do, how to keep it away from children, and how to use it responsibly (in the same way that the alcohol industry talks about responsible drinking.)

All opinions reflected in this article and any future articles on the Democratic cannabis platform are the opinions of Candidate Thomas and do not reflect any company or industry.

Wendy works at Prime ATC in Merrimack as a Patient Liaison. The contents of this article are not sanctioned by Prime ATC or any of its affiliates.