LD 764, a bill that would prevent medical marijuana patients from being denied organ transplants, was recently passed by the Maine Senate and is now awaiting Governor LePage's signature.
Under the measure, a medical marijuana patient’s status “may not be the sole disqualifying factor in determining the qualifying patient’s suitability for receiving an anatomical gift.”
Prompting the measure were increasing reports of medical marijuana patients being taken off of organ transplant lists or being explicitly denied organ transplants based solely on their status as medical marijuana patients, such as the case of Garry Godfrey.
Speaking at a public hearing, Godfrey, who suffers from a rare kidney disorder known as Alport syndrome, told lawmakers about how he was taken off of the transplant registry, after waiting for more than a decade, because he was a medical marijuana patient.
According to Godfrey, he was given the choice of giving up a life saving medicine or giving up on a life saving medical procedure.
“As I saw it, I only had one choice,” Godfrey said. “Marijuana made it possible for me to function daily and take care of my family. I should have never had to choose between a lifesaving organ transplant and a lifesaving medicine.”
The Journal of Clinical and Translational Research last year published an article that recreational marijuana use is not associated with worse outcomes after renal transplantation.
Abstract of Article
'As marijuana (MJ) legalization is increasing, kidney transplant programs must develop listing criteria for marijuana users. However, no data exists on the effect of MJ on kidney allograft outcomes, and there is no consensus on whether MJ use should be a contraindication to transplantation.
We retrospectively reviewed 1225 kidney recipients from 2008 to 2013. Marijuana use was defined by positive urine toxicology screen and/or self-reported recent use. The primary outcome was death at 1 year or graft failure (defined as GFR<20 mL/min/1.73 m2). The secondary outcome was graft function at 1 year.
Using logistic regression analyses, we compared these outcomes between MJ users and non-users. Marijuana use was not associated with worse primary outcomes by unadjusted (odds ratio 1.07, 95% CI 0.45–2.57, P=.87) or adjusted (odds ratio 0.79, 95% CI 0.28–2.28, P=.67) analysis. Ninety-two percent of grafts functioned at 1 year. Among these, the mean creatinine (1.52, 95% CI 1.39–1.69 vs 1.46, 95% CI 1.42–1.49; P=.38) and MDRD GFR (50.7, 95% CI 45.6–56.5 vs 49.5, 95% CI 48.3–50.7; P=.65) were similar between groups.
Isolated recreational MJ use is not associated with poorer patient or kidney allograft outcomes at 1 year. Therefore, recreational MJ use should not necessarily to be considered a contraindication to kidney transplantation.'
Greenan, G., Ahmad, S. B., Anders, M. G., Leeser, A., Bromberg, J. S. and Niederhaus, S. V. (2016) Recreational marijuana use is not associated with worse outcomes after renal transplantation. Clinical Transplantation, 30: 1340–1346. doi: 10.1111/ctr.12828