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As an already high-strung person living through a flaming trash heap of a year, I welcome the giddiness and chill that ripple over me when I occasionally light up a joint or take an edible. Sadly, I’ve been sans weed for the past few weeks, since my partner and I drove cross-country for the summer and didn’t want to risk getting caught crossing state lines with a stash in our van. At least the absence is temporary. Thank God I’m not allergic to weed, I thought a few days ago. That would be terrible. Wait — can you be allergic to weed? A Google search revealed that, yes, you absolutely can. I asked one of my favorite weed experts to walk me through this unfortunate phenomenon.
“You can be allergic to anything,” including cannabis, Lewis Nelson, chair of the department of emergency medicine and chief of the division of medical toxicology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells me. And as more of us consume the substance, especially amid the rise of legalization, we can probably expect more reports of cannabis allergy, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
An allergy is an immune reaction to a foreign substance that usually doesn’t trigger such a reaction. Upon their first exposure to cannabis, people who are allergic to it make antibodies in response to a part of the plant — typically pollen or some other protein, not chemicals like THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol, which gets you high), Nelson says. The next time they use weed, the antibodies attack the protein, which manifests as an allergic reaction, with symptoms ranging from a stuffy nose and a rash, all the way to wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea, and anaphylactic shock.
Published: August 19, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News