Cannabis (hemp) positive skin tests and respiratory symptoms

J. R. Stokes, R. Hartel, L. B. Ford, T. B. Casale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Background: We have noted several patients who had rhinitis and/or asthma symptoms when exposed to Cannabis plants in the summer months. Cannabis plants are common in the Midwest. Objectives: To examine whether Cannabis might be a clinically important allergen, we determined Cannabis pollination patterns in the Omaha area for 5 years, the prevalence of skin test positivity, and the association with respiratory symptoms. Methods: Airborne Cannabis (and other weed) pollens were collected using a Rotorod air impactor, and pollen counts were done using a standardized protocol. Results: Measurable Cannabis pollen count was not recorded until the last 2 weeks of July. Peak pollination typically occurred during mid- to late-August, and comprised up to 36% of the total pollen counts. Cannabis pollen was not observed after mid-September. To determine the prevalence of skin test positivity, we added Cannabis to the multi-test routine skin test battery. Seventy-eight of 127 patients tested (61%) were skin test positive. Thirty of the 78 patients were randomly selected to determine if they had allergic rhinitis and/or asthma symptoms during the Cannabis pollination period. By history, 22 (73%) claimed respiratory symptoms in the July through September period. All 22 of these subjects were also skin test positive to weeds pollinating during the same period as Cannabis (ragweed, pig-weed, cocklebur, Russian thistle, marsh elder, or kochia). Conclusions: The strong association between skin test reactivity, respiratory symptoms, and pollination period suggests that Cannabis could be a clinically important aeroallergen for certain patients and should be further studied. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2000;85:238-240.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-240
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


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