Can You Donate Blood if You Smoked Weed?
In July 2019, the American Red Cross reported an emergency need: blood donations were going out to hospitals faster than they were coming into donation centers.
While blood donation centers are no longer in a state of emergency, there is still a critical need. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, yet only 10% of the eligible population — which is less than 38% of Americans — donates.
The basic eligibility guidelines state that you must be at least 16 years old with parental consent in some states or 17 years old without consent in most states, weigh at least 110 pounds and have not donated in the past 56 days.
Here is what the American Red Cross said when we asked about cannabis use and donating blood: Yes, you can donate if you’ve smoked marijuana. However, you cannot donate if you’ve smoked or ingested a synthetic form of the drug.
Synthetic marijuana — also known as K2 or Spice — is a human-made chemical with a similar make-up to the marijuana plant. It is classified under the group called new psychoactive substances (NPS) and is considered to be an unregulated, mind-altering substance.
There is an FDA-approved medication called Marinol that has man-made THC in it. If you are taking Marinol for a medical condition, such as nausea from chemotherapy or loss of appetite from HIV infection, you would not be eligible for blood donation. If you have taken Marinol and do not have a pre-existing medical condition, you would not be deferred, as it is FDA-approved.
So, if you have smoked or ingested non-synthetic marijuana, are otherwise in good health and meet the basic donation guidelines, you can donate.
There is one final stipulation to note. While it is OK to have medical or recreational cannabis in your system, if you are under the influence of the drug at the time of donation, you will be deferred. That rule goes for licit and illicit drugs and alcohol.
Want to make sure you get a safe form of marijuana when purchasing it? Here are 25 things you should know before buying it.
Less than 50% of Americans are eligible to donate blood at any given time, so it’s helpful to know your reasons for ineligibility.
Can You Donate Blood If You Use Cannabis?
Can You Donate Blood If You Use Cannabis?
Below you’ll find answers to the most commonly asked questions about cannabis use and blood donation.
Some key points:
- The use of cannabis does not disqualify an individual from blood donation, but potential donors cannot give if their use of cannabis impairs their memory or comprehension.
- The Red Cross does not test blood donations for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the principle psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Does the Red Cross discourage cannabis consumers from donating blood?
A: No. The Red Cross encourages all eligible donors who feel well to make an appointment to give blood by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
Q: Do I need to wait to donate after using cannabis, and if so why?
A: There is no data that specifies how long an individual should wait between cannabis use and blood donation. Please do not present to donate if your use of cannabis is impairing your memory or comprehension.
Q: Doesn’t the Red Cross have to follow guidelines put out by the Drug Enforcement Administration—the same agency that classifies cannabis as a Schedule One drug?
A: Eligibility to donate blood is regulated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, not the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The FDA does not require blood collectors to test for THC.
Q: Does the Red Cross ever test blood samples for THC?
Q: What if I consume high-THC-percentage products like waxes or dabs; does that disqualify me?
A: No. Again, we ask that you do not present to donate if your use of cannabis is impairing your memory or comprehension.
Q: I’m a heavy cannabis consumer. Can a transfusion recipient fail a drug test if they receive my blood?
Q: Can I donate blood to the Red Cross if I take prescribed synthetic marijuana (the FDA uses the term “synthetic cannabinoids”) or recreational varieties like K2 and Spice?
A: The FDA does not have universal guidelines regarding synthetic marijuana (a.k.a “synthetic cannabinoid”) and leaves decisions about the acceptability of donations from these users up to local blood centers. This is because they are in the best position to know if disqualifying contaminants have been turning up in their areas.
Whether the synthetic marijuana you take is a prescribed medication or a recreational variety, our best advice is to contact our Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276.
Q: Do different guidelines apply to cannabis or synthetic marijuana consumers who want to donate platelets or plasma specifically?
A: For a cannabis user donating platelets or plasma, the guidelines are the same as they are for donating whole blood.
For synthetic marijuana users, there are concerns that some varieties of non-prescription synthetic marijuana have been found to contain certain anticoagulants known to contaminate plasma.
Policies about accepting whole blood, platelets or plasma donations from recreational synthetic marijuana consumers are currently set by each local blood center. Those policies vary depending on whether or not contaminants have been turning up in their areas.
If you are a recreational synthetic marijuana consumer who wants to donate plasma, we strongly suggest you contact our Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276.
The Red Cross does not disqualify cannabis users from blood donation. Learn more about donation eligibility and how you can help.