Organ Transplant Regulations Condemn Medical Cannabis Users To Death


In another showing of anti-cannabis bias, Reason reported that a doctor-certified medicinal user of cannabis has been given 90 days to live, following his removal from the organ donor register at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Norman Smith was recently told that his use of medical cannabis would make him ineligible, despite being bought from an authorised establishment, on the back of a recommendation from Cedars-Sinai themselves. Mr Smith had previously made an unexpected recovery at Cedars-Sinai where he’d suffered from liver cancer, but unfortunately suffered a relapse of the disease just a couple of months later. His medical cannabis use was considered to fall foul of their “substance abuse” contract.

There are standards set by the hospital which say that cannabis is on their list of reasons for exclusion, on the basis that inhaling the plant can lead to Aspergillosis, which comes from Aspergillus spores in mould. In the interest of being balanced, when I first encountered this story I thought perhaps there was some particular risk associated with smoking tainted cannabis, so I could envisage this being reasonable given the precious extension of life afforded by a transplant. We hear of people being rejected for continuing to drink alcohol, so perhaps this could be justified. However, this is countered by the fact that Mr Smith purchased his cannabis from certified medical dispensaries, which have strict FDA-/EPA-approved strenuous quality control checks. Something which is one of the benefits of state-regulated medical cannabis laws, along with being yet another reason a health-conscious government should regulate cannabis for every citizen.


The NHS tells us there are clear ways in which people with lung problems (such as asthma) can minimise their exposure to this fungus, which includes avoiding:

  • marshland and bogs
  • forests
  • compost heaps
  • grain stores
  • rotting vegetation
  • piles of dead leaves
  • exposure to a dusty environment, such as a construction site
  • activities that involve close contact with soil and dust, such as gardening

None of these activities would be considered sufficient for Cedars-Sinai to decline organ transplantation, yet they have an issue with a prescribed medication which has been certified void of Aspergillus. Claims that this disparity does not stem from the classification of cannabis as a “drug of abuse” are clearly not backed by the surrounding evidence. Even the American Journal For Transplantation concluded there was no significant increased risk of rejection for liver transplant candidates who consume cannabis.

The video ends on a sombre note, as we’re told that half of Americans For Safe Access‘s members who were denied transplants have now died. These are real people, losing real lives, to real diseases. They aren’t in need of being taught a deadly lesson by unfounded moral judgements on acceptable medication. Mr Smith’s only chance of survival now lies with treatment abroad. Way to go America.

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