California Approves Organ Transplants for Medical Marijuana Users

For patients suffering organ failure, it can be a scary time while waiting on the state organ transplant list for a suitable transplant organ to become available. Many are dying while facing what is essentially a race against the clock. If a transplant organ becomes available, and they can have the surgery in time, there is chance they will survive, if they make in through the surgery and their body does not reject the new organ.

medical-doctor-1314902-m.jpgTrying to make sure a transplant patient will not reject a donor organ requires a very precise match from patient to donor, and that is the reason the transplant list is so long and why it takes so much time to find a suitable organ. This is a major problem, because we are often dealing with people who do not have long to live.

As our Orange County medical cannabis collective attorneys can explain, until now, if a patient tested positive for use of marijuana, the hospital would remove the transplant patient from the organ transplant list, finding they were no longer eligible. The reason behind this policy was an antiquated belief that those who smoked marijuana were drug addicts who did not take care of their bodies, so they were essentially not worthy of a donor organ when there are those who would test negative also waiting for a transplant organ.

This is unfair on many levels. Many organ failure patients are in serious pain, and medial cannabis may be the only thing that can actually alleviate the pain and make the situation bearable. Not only that, medical cannabis is much safer than the powerful narcotics hospitals will prescribe a patient to deal with pain, and unlike these narcotics, medical cannabis does not cause the level of damage to organs like the liver and kidneys as these drugs, and patients do not become addicted.

According to a recent article from Vice News, the state of California has finally passed a law, which was signed by the governor, which will prevent hospitals from denying organ transplants to patients who test positive for medical marijuana. This is a not only a major step forward in terms of medial marijuana acceptance, but it is also a major victory for advocates of more humane treatment for seriously ill patients across California.

Denial of an organ transplant is not only a problem for those currently on the list, but it is also a problem for many patients following a successful transplant. One patient interviewed for the article had a successful liver transplant 19 years ago. While the surgery was a success and saved her life, she still faces serious and painful medical complications every day and knows her liver may fail again in the future. Medical marijuana was the one medication that would offer her some relief, as she could not take narcotics due to the damage they would likely cause to her liver. Until recently, she was told she could not use medical marijuana, as it could make her ineligible for a further organ transplant should her liver fail again. She now no longer has to worry about this.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

California Has Finally Stopped Denying Organ Transplants to Medical Marijuana Users, July 11, 2015, Vice News

More Blog Entries:
San Diego’s First Legal Marijuana Dispensary Opens Doors, April 5, 2015, Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Lawyer Blog