A disturbing trend has emerged from the medical transplant community in which patients who use cannabis are being denied potentially life saving organ transplants. Debate on the subject is thriving though many doctors and surgeons remain agnostic, biased or dismissive to the thought of performing risky procedures on anyone who may have used cannabis at any point prior to needing life saving surgery. Often citing the legality of cannabis or potential for infection post transplant, deflecting the gravity of their unwillingness to accept organs from or operate on cannabis consumers is easier than taking a stand against a corrupt and misguided institution.
Completely rejecting the view that infection from a fungal disease carried in moldy cannabis may affect transplant recipients with already compromised immune systems would be unwise. Potentially more unwise and certainly life threatening would be relying on doctors who have been taught that marijuana is bad but pills are good to be up to speed on the latest cannabis consumption methods and testing practices. Research suggests that any academic discussion pertaining to this matter fails to consider edibles, tinctures, suppositories, transdermal patches, sublingual sprays or other non-combustible ways to intake cannabis.
In her paper titled Marijuana use and Aspergillosis, Helen Le Sueur states,
“Since the 1970s there have been a small but significant number of case reports describing a link between marijuana use and invasive aspergillosis. This is thought to be due to the direct inhalation of fungal spores that are present on the surface of the plant. The heating of cannabis buds may not be sufficient for sterilization and so users (particularly those with compromised immune systems) are potentially exposed to life threatening pulmonary infection.”
It seems woefully obvious that any decision being made with incomplete information or antiquated research should not be considered reliable. When the letters M.D. are appended to a name and embroidered on a lab coat or scrubs it is easy to take the word of such a well educated individual or group without questioning the underlying assumptions of the medical advice. Left to their own devices, medical professionals eschew common sense in favor of bureaucratic boneheadedness and rigid righteousness.
2016’s Marijuana and Listing for Heart Transplant: A Survey of Transplant Providers is the most comprehensive collection of information currently available. Three hundred and sixty physicians, surgeons, nurses and organ transplant coordinators from across the globe participated and provided valuable insight. On the surface the numbers indicate that majority surveyed believe that cannabis use should not preclude people from receiving organ transplants. Digging a bit deeper illuminates the misguided belief system from which they are working.
Sixty-four percent of respondents agreed that patients who use legal medical marijuana should be listed for a heart transplant. Not a bad start. Seventy-two percent believe that legal recreational use of cannabis is means to be denied a new heart. Uh-oh. Eighty-three percent are under the belief that patients who use marijuana in a state where it is not legal to do so should not be allowed a heart transplant. That’s just cold blooded.
It only gets worse. Sixty-six percent think marijuana use is physically harmful. The hooks of Big Pharma and the chuckled headed saps on Capitol Hill are sunk deep into the those tasked with deciding who shall be given a second chance at life through the miracle of modern medicine. Eighty-three percent answered that patients who use Marinol should be listed for a heart transplant while 63 percent agreed that patients that use opiates daily for chronic pain should be listed.
The unenviable position of needing an organ transplant shouldn’t be further complicated by ambiguous guidelines and moral judgments. Doctors are supposed to be smart. They’ve got so many years of education. Suggesting that the amount or frequency of cannabis use should disqualify an individual from receiving a heart, lung or any other transplant is a desperate call for help.