June 22nd and the California Legislature approved AB 258, which is called the Cannabis Organ Transplant Act.
The bill was introduced by Marc Levine(D-San Rafael). The legislation would allow medical marijuana patients in California access to organ transplants. Currently medical marijuana patients will be kicked off the waiting list if marijuana metabolites are detected in their blood or urine stream.
Yami Bolanos is a former cancer patient who survived a liver transplant 19 years ago. Bolanos lives in Santa Monica and takes cannabis to relieve daily pain caused by numerous surgeries. Now, she’s being denied another organ transplant because she uses medical marijuana.
Bolanos, like most of the others, was advised by her doctor to take medical marijuana, which she took in the form of cannabis oil.
Bolanos told LA Weekly “It’s something that should have happened a long time ago. It’s discrimination in the worst way for medical marijuana patients… As far as the policies are right now, I need to be 30/60/90 days clean in order to have a transplant.”
Hospitals in America routinely screen organ transplant candidates for drugs. The idea is to not waste precious organs on drug users. Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Washington have recently enacted laws protecting medical marijuana users on the waiting list for organs. In Oregon, specifically at OHSU Hospital, the restrictions for drug users have been slightly eased for medical marijuana patients.
If an otherwise qualified candidate has a single negative screen for marijuana, he or she would be allowed on the waiting list. Twice means you get the boot. OSHU is home to Oregon’s largest organ transplant program. It’s time for California to catch up.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) co-founder Don Duncan is sponsoring the bill.
Bolanos says “When this is a law, no more people will die because they use medical marijuana. This is a triumph and Don Duncan is a genius. He is a saint. He did this on his own for the patients of California.”
The bill will help the cruel discrimination against those that use medical marijuana. Kris Hermes, a spokesman for ASA says that some transplant programs require marijuana users to submit to random drug tests and undergo rehab.
The bill passed the California Assembly stage with a 33-1 vote. Joel Anderson of San Diego was the only member of the California Assembly to vote against the bill. Incumbent Joel Anderson has voted against medical marijuana in every instance.
There is no way of knowing just exactly how many Californians have been denied a transplant because of medical marijuana. HIPAA prohibits this information with its strict confidentiality policies. UCLA, Stanford Medical Center, UCSF, and Cedars Sinai are some of the hospitals in California that are known to reject medical marijuana patients. Medical marijuana patients have just as much of a right as anyone else to be on the waiting list for an organ transplant.