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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Medical Marijuana and Organ Transplants

Medical marijuana has been a hot button topic in California for some time now. Whether or not you are for or against medical marijuana, there are many people who are suffering from chronic pain related to a number of disorders who find relief from cannabis. Unbelievably, a man who was on the liver transplant list at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has been removed because he was using medical marijuana to help with his cancer and did not show up for a drug test.

In order for Norman Smith to get back on the list, he must avoid medical marijuana for six months and submit to random drug testing as well as undergo counseling, reports the Los Angeles Times. As far as organ donor programs go there is no standard as to who can or cannot receive organs when medical marijuana is involved.

“We do not make a moral or ethical judgment about people who are smoking medical marijuana. Our concern is strictly for the health and safety of our patients,” said Sally Stewart, a spokesperson for the hospital.

According to the hospital’s policy, if a patient on a transplant list tests positive for marijuana, they can remain on the list if they sign a statement promising to stay away from the drug. If they fail a random drug test or do not show up for one, they are removed from the list. It is hard to agree with a policy like the one Cedar-Sinai uses, especially considering that people with terminal diseases find the drug to provide more relief than prescription drugs. There is hardly a legitimate reason to deny someone a liver transplant solely based off the use of medical marijuana.

Marijuana may not be a healthy alternative medicine to use, but if it provides relief for terminally ill patients many believe it should be considered an accepted practice.

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