California will now exempt medical marijuana users from an often-deadly discrimination.
On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, or AB 258, which bans restricting medical marijuana patients from receiving an organ transplant, unless a doctor has determined that cannabis use would have an effect on the transplant process. The law, written by Assembly member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), comes as a huge relief to medical marijuana patients who can now receive the organ transplants they have been waiting for.
“Arcane public health policies treat medical cannabis patients as drug abusers,” said Levine in a statement. “As a result patients are often denied a life-saving organ transplant solely because they are prescribed medical cannabis. Many of these patients have died after being denied an organ transplant. The Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act will save lives by ensuring medical cannabis patients are not discriminated against in the organ transplant process.”
Unfortunately, the law will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2016, so medical users currently in need of an organ transplant will have to continue to wait, which has had tragic consequences in the past. Tim Garon, a medical marijuana patient from Seattle, sparked outrage when he died in 2008 after being denied a liver transplant.
Ironically, a 2010 study from researchers at the University of South Carolina argued that cannabinoids, compounds found in the marijuana plant, are actually “an ideal candidate” to help a patient’s body accept the organ transplant because of its anti-inflammatory properties. So not only is there confusion within the medical field that would prescribe marijuana to a patient and then deny that same patient a transplant for following a doctor’s orders, there is now the additional confusion with medical information suggesting cannabinoid use should even be suggested for organ transplant recipients.
With wide support to end the confusion, The Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act passed with nearly unanimous votes on its way to Gov. Brown. In April, the California Assembly in April approved the bill with a vote of 52-8 and in June, the State Senate passed the bill with a vote of 31-1.
“AB 258’s passage represents a big victory in the fight to end discrimination against medical cannabis patients in California,” said Steph Sherer, the executive director of Americans for Safe Access, the nonprofit that sponsored the bill. “With AB 258 passing by such overwhelming margins in California we hope to see more states follow suit by passing legislation to end organ transplant discrimination against medical cannabis patients.”
Currently, only seven of the 23 states and Washington D.C. that allow medical marijuana have laws that protect medical cannabis patients from discrimination during the organ transplant process, according to the Huffington Post.
Do you think medical marijuana patients should be allowed to receive organ transplants? Let us know in the comments.