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Can You Donate or Receive a Kidney If You Use Cannabis?

Can You Donate or Receive a Kidney If You Use Cannabis?

Despite the incredible need for donor organs, recipients and donors who are also cannabis consumers have traditionally been turned away, but new research and state legislatures are changing that.


Each year, surgeons perform over 100,000 kidney, liver, and other solid organ transplants. Every 12 minutes, a new person is added to the organ transplant waiting list, and every day, 21 people die waiting for an organ match.

  • As more patients have turned to medical cannabis to treat their conditions, that choice has put the patient in a catch 22 situation.
  • Despite the high number of organ placements, recipient demand for donor organs still far outweighs the available supply. Nearly 120,000 patients are waiting for an organ, and in many cases, patients wait over a year for a match. The donor-recipient matching process for liver, kidney, and other organ transplants is very complex. Physicians consider many parameters, like disease progression and the patient’s functional status. An ideal match minimizes organ rejection while maximizing the patient’s long-term survival.

Organ donors and recipients have traditionally not been selected if they use cannabis. As more patients have turned to medical cannabis to treat their conditions, that choice has put the patient in a catch 22 situation: the very remedy that brings relief is also likely the reason for removal from the organ wait list. The same goes for organ donors.