Longtime Stash listeners will remember the tragic story of Tim Garon, a Pacific Northwest man who was kicked off a liver transplant list because of his legal use of medical cannabis. Many, if not most transplant programs will refuse a patient with inactive cannabis metabolites based on gross prejudice against cannabis users and lack of understanding about medical cannabis.
So I am excited about this new study to be published out of the University of Michigan entitled, “Marijuana Use in Potential Liver Transplant Candidates.” These researchers began the study hypothesizing “that patients with chronic liver disease who were marijuana users will have inferior survival.” From 1999-2007 they studied 1,489 liver transplant patients, 155 of whom were cannabis users, identified by a drug screening. The result?
Upon multivariate analysis, MELD score, hepatitis C and transplantation were significantly associated with survival, while marijuana use was not.We conclude that patients who did and did not use marijuana had similar survival rates. Current substance abuse policies do not seem to systematically expose marijuana users to additional risk of mortality.
In other words, the only reason to deny a marijuana user an organ transplant is if our doctors want to play police officer. Marijuana use does not impact survival rates for transplants one bit, so the only reason to deny transplants is because patients are breaking a federal or state law, or just a federal law in thirteen states now.
Actually, it is not surprising, considering how many of our police have been playing doctor over medical marijuana. In Hawaii, the medical marijuana program is actually administered by law enforcement!