Allergic reaction

I’ve been smoking weed for 23 years. Two years ago I became very sick with flu-like symptoms: sore throat, headache and fatigue. I saw many doctors and specialists who ran dozens of tests.
Many tests and $50,000 later, they still couldn’t figure out what my problem was. They thought I might have Lyme disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, allergies or depression.

The whole time I was sick I never quit smoking marijuana. I noticed that using marijuana made my symptoms worse so I decided to only smoke at night. While I was in a friend’s garden I brushed up against some ripe buds and had a major skin reaction. It was like touching poison oak. I developed a rash; it was red and itchy with little corpuscles (pimples). I thought it might be from chemicals used in growing the marijuana, so I tested my skin by rubbing organic marijuana on it. The same symptoms appeared.

I think I’ve become allergic to pot. I’m on day three of abstinence. I am going to refrain from using for three months to see how I feel without it.

I am heartbroken and freaking out. Pot is spiritual for me and helps keep me on an even keel. I can’t imagine life without getting high. 10 years ago I quit using it for a year and realized how important pot is for my mental health.

Have you heard of this? I’m hoping that if I quit for three months and rid my body of toxins I will be able to smoke again. What’s your opinion?



Your report is not the first regarding an allergic reaction to marijuana. Your symptoms, however, are more profound than most. Several people who worked around marijuana for long periods of time have reported that after years of contact with no problems, they started developing rashes, shortness of breath and other asthma-like problems, fatigue or unusual mood swings.

One woman who worked manicuring dried marijuana for many years suddenly developed contact dermatitis, watery eyes, sneezing fits and shortness of breath from contact with the dried material. She is also allergic to contact with growing marijuana. However, she doesn’t exhibit symptoms from either eating or smoking it. Before she transitioned to new work, she wore protective gloves and a breathing mask while performing her tasks. She found that taking prescription anti-allergy medicines relieved the symptoms.

Your case is far more severe since you developed allergic reactions to marijuana internally as well as externally. You made the right decision when you decided to abstain from using marijuana or having contact with it for a while. After six months or so of not challenging your body with the substance, you can test to see if you still have this reaction. Unfortunately, I suspect the symptoms will recur.

It is possible that your allergy is related to the vegetative material rather than the cannabinoids. If this is the case, you may still be able to get high, you’ll just have to change your methods.

There are several ways to test and see if this hypothesis is correct. If you have access to a Marinol pill, you could puncture it and rub its contents on your skin to see if you develop a reaction. If you don’t, you probably are not allergic to THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets you high.

If you aren’t allergic to THC, but to other substances in grass, you could try using very refined preparations that contain only cannabinoids. These include well-rinsed water hash, water-washed kief or ether-refined THC oil. While not totally free of the allergens, these preparations contain very small amounts of plant matter. You may also be able to vaporize marijuana, since this turns the cannabinoids into a vapor for inhalation without combusting the plant material. It is more pure than smoking. Many vaporizers are available on the market.

Readers with grow questions (or answers) should send them to Ed at: Ask Ed, PMB 147, 530 Divisadero St., San Francisco, California 94117, USA. You can also email Ed at [email protected], and send queries via his websites at All featured questions will be rewarded with a copy of Ed’s new book, Best of Ask Ed: Your Marijuana Questions Answered. Sorry, Ed cannot send personal replies to your questions.



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