Assembly passes bill to end organ transplant black list for marijuana users

By Jeremy B. White
Published on May 3, 2015


Medical cannabis patients could not be denied organ transplants solely based on their marijuana use under a bill the California Assembly passed on Thursday.

Individual hospitals have leeway to set separate guidelines for who can receive transplants, and Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, said some discriminate against Californians who are legally using marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“Too often patients are denied a life-saving organ transplant solely because they are prescribed medical cannabis,” Levine said.


Assembly Bill 258, which passed passed the Assembly on a 52-8 vote and now heads to the Senate, bars hospitals from making transplant decisions solely based on cannabis use, though it allows exceptions if a doctor determines that an individual’s weed consumption is “medically significant.”

Lending support to that argument, the California Medical Association passed a resolution earlier this year opposing restrictions on organ donors or recipients stemming solely from cannabis use. As of Thursday, the organization had not adopted a formal position on AB 258.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

The bill:


SECTION 1. Section 7151.36 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:
7151.36. (a) 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, as defined in Section 11362.7, or based solely on upon a positive test for the use of medical marijuana by a potential recipient who is a qualified patient, as defined in Section 11362.7, except to the extent that the qualified patient’s use of medical marijuana has been found by a physician and surgeon, following a case-by-case evaluation of the potential recipient, to be medically significant to the provision of the anatomical gift.
(b) Subdivision (a) shall apply to each part of the organ transplant process. The organ transplant process includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) The referral from a primary care provider to a specialist.
(2) The referral from a specialist to a transplant center.
(3) The evaluation of the patient for the transplant by the transplant center.
(4) The consideration of the patient for placement on the official waiting list.
(c) The court shall accord priority on its calendar and handle expeditiously any action brought to seek any remedy authorized by law for purposes of enforcing compliance with this section.
(d) This section shall not be deemed to require referrals or recommendations for, or the performance of, medically inappropriate organ transplants.

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