Cannabis Allergy: What do We Know Anno 2015

Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 2015 Oct;63(5):327-32. doi: 10.1007/s00005-015-0352-z. Epub 2015 Jul 16.


For about a decade, IgE-mediated cannabis (marihuana) allergy seems to be on the rise. Both active and passive exposure to cannabis allergens may lead to a cannabis sensitization and/or allergy. The clinical manifestations of a cannabis allergy can vary from mild to life-threatening reactions, often depending on the route of exposure. In addition, sensitization to cannabis allergens can trigger various secondary cross-allergies, mostly for plant-derived food. This clinical entity, which we have designated as the "cannabis-fruit/vegetable syndrome" might also imply cross-reactivity with tobacco, latex and plant-food derived alcoholic beverages. These secondary cross-allergies are mainly described in Europe and appear to result from cross-reactivity between non-specific lipid transfer proteins or thaumatin-like proteins present in Cannabis sativa and their homologues that are ubiquitously distributed throughout plant kingdom. At present, diagnosis of cannabis-related allergies rests upon a thorough history completed with skin testing using native extracts from buds and leaves. However, quantification of specific IgE antibodies and basophil activation tests can also be helpful to establish correct diagnosis. In the absence of a cure, treatment comprises absolute avoidance measures including a stop of any further cannabis (ab)use.

Keywords: Allergy; Basophil activation; CD63; Can s 3; Cannabis; Cross-reactivity; Diagnosis; IgE; Prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Plant / immunology*
  • Basophil Degranulation Test
  • Cannabis / immunology*
  • Carrier Proteins / immunology*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects
  • Plant Proteins / immunology*
  • Skin Tests


  • Antigens, Plant
  • Can s 3 allergen, Cannabis sativa
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • lipid transfer proteins, plant
  • Immunoglobulin E