Ever felt like sneezing after grinding some bud? Or noticed your eyes get itchy after rolling a joint? This could mean you've got allergies, but not necessarily that you're allergic to pot.
While working my first outdoor harvest, I was miserable without a heavy dose of Claritin and puffs from my inhaler all day. Constant sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, and my skin would break out in an itchy rash at the touch of any bud. But I've been smoking weed of all varieties for several years now without any reactions other than the usual stoner phlegm. Did my reactions mean my body doesn't like weed in any form?
So if I live with a cat allergy and a pet cat, can I keep smoking if I put up with extra coughing?credit: 420magazine.com
Plenty of articles have popped up about supposed "marijuana allergies." But not enough clarity when distinguishing a rash during trim season vs full-blown anaphylactic shock after an edible.
First we need to understand how allergies work. An allergic response occurs when your immune system reacts abnormally to a normal thing in the environment. That thing, known as an allergen, causes an inflammatory response in the body. Those negative responses can range from a momentary patch of hives to life-threatening.
Allergies can be caused by ingestion, contact of the skin, or inhalation. You've heard of someone being "so allergic to peanuts they can't even touch them," which is an example of an allergy so severe that his or her body cannot consume, touch or breathe that thing. On the other hand, someone could be allergic to strawberries but be fine handling them or eating processed strawberries like jam.
Examples of common food allergies. Hopefully we don't have to make room for Chemdawg.credit: dentistryiq.com
Now consider poison oak. If someone eats poison ivy or oak or inhales some of the oil that is released from burning the plants, "it is possible to have an allergic reaction that causes the airways to swell up. Most of the time, however, poison ivy or oak causes a skin rash."
This is not good news for those of us who sneeze around weed. But that's not the entire diagnosis. What if it isn't the weed making you react?
In my case, I'm allergic to pollen, ragweed, mold, dust, various trees and grasses, and animal dander. My asthma is linked to my hay fever. It very well could be any of those things coating the outdoor buds that made me have an allergic response. Don't forget that weed is a plant itself. The powdery kief covering each bud is marijuana pollen, after all.
While this is only the earliest stage of research for this allergy, you should note the way you react around different types of weed. Knowing where your weed is coming from and how it was grown could mean avoiding a harmful allergic reaction, or at least earn you some side money as a human mold-detector.
If all weed tends to make you sneezy or rashy and you aren't ready to throw in the towel just yet, it isn't a terrible idea to keep an EpiPen around. Just be grateful you can still eat gluten.
An example of high-caliber indoor-grown marijuana from Oregon grower, Nelson and Co Organics.credit: instagram.com/StumptownGreen