California Medical Association Votes Unanimously Against Denying Organ Transplants for Medical Marijuana Patients

The refusal of transplant clinics to place or keep patients on organ transplant lists is a widespread problem in California and other states. Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is fighting to reform organ transplant policies in California, has received numerous reports of such actions at hospitals across the state, including Cedars-Sinai, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California San Francisco, and Stanford Medical School.

The CMA resolution opposes “utilization of marijuana use and positive cannabis toxicology tests as a contraindication for potential organ transplant recipients,” and calls on using “evidence-based medical findings to guide any alterations in this CMA policy.” The resolution was authored by Delegates Jordan Apfeld, Nuriel Moghavem, Trishna Narula, MPH, and Sarah Smith. ASA also lobbied hard for passage of the resolution in hopes of advancing policy change at the state level.

The CMA resolution comes as the California legislature is considering introducing a bill that would prevent transplant clinics from rejecting patients based on their medical marijuana status or use. As of last week, more than 600 ASA members had signed a petition in support of the proposed Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act. ASA estimates that nearly 200 qualified medical marijuana patients need transplants each year.

“I am very proud of my colleagues at the CMA, who once again endorsed the principle that medical decision for the benefit of patients be based on science and not moralistic prejudices,” said Dr. Larry Bedard, a retired Marin General Hospital emergency physician and 30-year CMA delegate who currently serves on its Marijuana Technical Advisory Committee.

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