Facts and Talking Points

Use these facts and talking points to discuss AB 258 with lawmakers, staff, the media, and others.

Patient & Advocate Talking Points

Patients are routinely denied a place on the national organ transplant waiting list or dropped from the list when they test positive for cannabis use – even legal, doctor-recommended medical cannabis.

The policy of denying transplants based on a positive test for cannabis use fails to distinguish between cannabis as a drug of abuse and medical cannabis used lawfully under a doctor’s care to treat the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, cancer, chronic pain, or other serious conditions.

This commonplace policy predates legal medical cannabis in California, 34 other states, and the District of Columbia. The policy also predates emerging medical research and more than 18 years of clinical practice that demonstrate that medical cannabis is safe and effective.

Research shows that more than 1.5 million Californians have used medical cannabis, and 92% of them report relief from a serious medical condition like chronic pain, arthritis, cancer, and AIDS. This is real medicine, and patients are getting real relief. (Drug and Alcohol Review, February 2014)

No state law currently protects legal medical cannabis patients who need an organ transplant from discrimination.

Patients have died after being dropped from the organ transplant lists, and other are in jeopardy right now.

It is not fair to deny a legal medical cannabis patient an organ transplant based only on the patient’s use of doctor-recommended medical cannabis.

We already protect patients with mental and physical disabilities from discrimination in the organ transplant process. Legal medical cannabis patients deserve the same fair chance.

Six other states already protect legal medical cannabis patients from discrimination in the organ transplants process: AZ, DE, IL, MN, NH, RI. (Medical Marijuana Access in the US, Americans for Safe Access, 2014)

Health Care Professional Talking Points

AB 258 respects the doctor-patient relationship by allowing a patient to use legal medical cannabis recommended by their attending physician and enjoy equal access to potentially life-saving therapy.

AB 258 does not tie doctors’ hands or interfere in the practice of medicine. Doctors are still free to make a clinical decision about the suitability of an individual candidate for an organ transplant.

In December of 2014, the California Medical Association’s House of Delegates unanimously approved Resolution No. 114-16 saying that “CMA opposes blanket restrictions of potential organ transplant donors and recipients based solely on reported or detected marijuana uses.”

Scientific research published in the American Journal of Transplantation in 2009 shows that there is no association between cannabis use and lower survival rates among organ transplant recipients. (Ranney, D. N., Acker, W. B., Holou, Al, S. N., Ehrlichman, L., Lee, D. S., Lewin, S. A., et al. (2009). Marijuana Use in Potential Liver Transplant Candidates. American Journal of Transplantation, 9(2), 280–285. doi:10.1111/j.1600-6143.2008.02468.x)

Research published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology in 2013 shows that medical cannabis and compounds in medical cannabis have immune-suppressive and anti-inflammatory effects, which are beneficial to the transplant process. (Rom, S., & Persidsky, Y. (2013). Cannabinoid Receptor 2: Potential Role in Immunomodulation and Neuroinflammation. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology. doi:10.1007/s11481-013-9445-9)

Research published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology in 2013 shows that compounds in medical cannabis may prolong graft survival in transplant patients. (Robinson, R. H., Meissler, J. J., Breslow-Deckman, J. M., Gaughan, J., Adler, M. W., & Eisenstein, T. K. (2013). Cannabinoids inhibit T-cells via cannabinoid receptor 2 in an in vitro assay for graft rejection, the mixed lymphocyte reaction. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 8(5), 1239–1250. doi:10.1007/s11481-013-9485-1)