California introduces bill to end organ transplant denials for medical marijuana patients

Oscar Pascual, San Francisco Chronicle

In a move to save the lives of many Californians, Assembly member Marc Levine has introduced a bill to prevent medical marijuana patients from being denied organ transplants based solely on their cannabis use.

Sponsored by Americans for Safe Access, Assembly Bill 258 states that “A hospital, physician and surgeon, procurement organization, or other person shall not determine the ultimate recipient of an anatomical gift based solely upon a potential recipient’s status as a qualified patient…or based solely on a positive test for the use of medical marijuana by a potential recipient who is a qualified patient.”

The bill would essentially establish the same protections currently in place for organ transplant candidates with mental or physical disabilities.

AB 258 comes at a time when many medical cannabis users are being denied new organs simply because of their medicinal use, such as cancer patient Norman Smith, who died in 2012 after being denied a liver transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“Arcane public health policies view medical cannabis patients as drug abusers,” said Levine in a prepared statement. “Too often, patients are denied a life-saving organ transplant solely because they are prescribed medical cannabis. These patients have died after being dropped from the list, and many more are in jeopardy right now. This legislation will save lives by ensuring medical cannabis patients are not discriminated against in the organ transplant process.”