Can You Donate Blood If You Smoke Weed?
Like the 44 percent of Americans who admitted in a 2015 Gallup poll to having tried marijuana at some point in their lives, I too have enjoyed recreational cannabis on many occasions вЂ” and though I’ve never donated blood myself, I have often wondered if smoking pot and donating blood are mutually exclusive activities.
A number of issues, including the fact that today is World Blood Donor Day, and the tragic mass shooting at Pulse night club in Orlando early last Sunday morning, which resulted in the deaths of 49 people and the wounding of at least 53, have left more people than ever interested in giving blood. So, I decided to finally find out the answer to my question: Can you donate blood if you smoke weed? The answer? Yes, yes you can.
In fact, while the American Red Cross doesn’t condone the recreational use of marijuana, it seems that the only way marijuana use would ever preclude anyone from donating blood is if they showed up to their local blood drive high AF. As the Red Cross told High Times back in 2014, “While the Red Cross does not encourage the use of controlled substances, marijuana or alcohol use does not necessarily disqualify you from giving blood as long as you are feeling well.”
So, there you have it. If you smoke weed on the regular, that doesn’t mean you can’t also help save lives by donating blood on World Blood Donor Day, or any day, for that matter. Actually, according to the American Red Cross’ website, if you’re in good health, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, and are at least 17 years old, then you pass all the basic blood donor eligibility requirements. That said, the Red Cross does have a whole list of donor eligibility requirements that pertain to lifestyle choices, like when and where you got your last tattoo and whether or not you’ve ever used intravenous recreational drugs. So before you hit up your local blood drive, read on to learn about the things that can prevent you from being an eligible blood donor.
1. In The Past Year, You’ve Traveled To A Country Where Malaria Is Found
If you’ve traveled to a region where malaria is relatively common, such as Papua New Guinea or sub-Saharan Africa, then it’s possible you will be deterred from giving blood until you’ve been home from that country for 12 months. If you contracted malaria while you were away, and had to undergo treatment for the disease, then you should know that the American Red Cross may require you to wait up to three years before your donor eligibility will be reinstated. Ultimately, though, different organizations have different requirements; so your best bet is to go to your nearest blood donation center with all your travel details (like dates, transportation details, and travel destinations) so you can discuss your options with the staff members there.
2. You’ve Gotten Tattooed In An Unregulated Facility Within The Past Year
Thankfully, having a tattoo doesn’t automatically prevent you from being an eligible blood donor. (Whew!) Moreover, if you’ve gotten a tattoo in the past 12 months from a regulated tattoo studio that uses only sterile needles and never reuses ink, then you should be good to go. However, if you’ve gotten tattooed in the past year from a facility in D.C., Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah or Wyoming вЂ” states that don’t regulate tattooing facilities вЂ” then you won’t be considered eligible for blood donation by the American Red Cross until a full year has passed.
3. You’ve Used Intravenous Drugs That Weren’t Prescribed By A Physician
Though the American Red Cross doesn’t seem to have a problem with accepting donors who smoke weed or booze it up from time to time, they clearly and reasonably state on their website that any prospective donor who has used intravenous drugs recreationally will be considered ineligible blood donors for life. This strict policy is a direct result of the HIV and Hepatitis risks that are increased by IV drug usage.
4. You’re A Man Who Has Had Sex With Men In The Past Year
Until very recently, men who have had sex with men (MSM) were banned for life from donating blood. Fortunately, this policy was changed last winter. Sadly, though, men who have had sex with men are still considered ineligible donors if they’ve had sexual contact with another man in the past year. As the Red Cross explains on their website, as of December 21, 2015, the FDA decided to “change the MSM blood donation policy from a lifetime deferral to a one-year deferral and additionally for the purposes of blood donation gender is self-identified and self-reported, which is relevant to the transgender community.”
Unfortunately, it could be awhile before the Red Cross has finished going through all the steps it will take to update their MSM donor policy and reinstate previously deferred donors, but it’s still exciting to see that gay men will no longer be immediately turned away from blood drives, for life, just because they’ve had sex with other men.
5. You’re Pregnant Or Just Gave Birth
First of all, if you’re currently pregnant, or have given birth within the last six weeks, then congratulations are definitely in order! Unfortunately, though, this also means you won’t be an eligible blood donor for a while, because pregnancy and recent childbirth will preclude you from donating blood. So unless it’s been at least six weeks since you had your baby, take it easy for now and just plan on being an active part of World Blood Donor Day 2017. Or, if you don’t want to wait that long to give blood, then maybe you can try to find the time to donate blood after a couple of months have passed. No rush, though, because you literally just created life, so don’t sweat it if it takes you a little while to get to the blood bank.
Like the 44 percent of Americans who admitted in a 2015 Gallup poll to having tried marijuana at some point in their lives, I too have enjoyed recreational cannabis on many occasions вЂ” and though I’ve never donated blood myself, I have oftenвЂ¦
Blood Donation and Cannabis: Are Weed Consumers Eligible?
Thursday July 16, 2020
E ven when the world is not in the throes of a pandemic, blood donations are a critical part of the nation’s healthcare framework. According to the venerable American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. is in need of blood to help with cancer treatments, chronic health conditions like sickle cell anemia, traumatic injury, and surgeries. One blood donation can be used as whole blood, or divided into red cells, platelets, or plasma. In short, donating blood saves lives.
However, the onset of COVID-19 saw blood donations plummet. Perhaps this drop is due in part to wariness of venturing outside in general, or from worry about COVID-19 infection exposure in a healthcare setting. But blood donation is more important – and it should be said, safer than ever – especially as dwindling blood supplies desperately need to be shored up.
Eligibility of Cannabis Consumers to Donate Blood
Some cannabis consumers have wondered whether it is okay to donate blood, especially if their blood would test positive for cannabis. And the very short answer is yes! For the longer answer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that donated blood is screened for certain pathogens, like hepatitis B and C viruses, HIV, West Nile Virus, and Zika Virus. However, blood is not screened for the presence of THC metabolites or other cannabinoids.
This is good news for both the blood supply and cannabis consumers. The Red Cross, who provide approximately 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, is incentivizing blood donation by providing COVID-19 antibody testing in addition to the regular blood screenings, to help donors understand whether they have been asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
If your blood does carry antibodies, it may be used in the fight against coronavirus in the form of convalescent plasma. Upon recovery from COVID-19, the liquid part of blood called plasma should have antibodies, or proteins that can help fight the infection. Currently, there is no FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19 using convalescent plasma, but its use is being investigated, and could potentially be deployed, as a treatment for those battling infection.
Even if you don’t have COVID-19 antibodies, you may have other antibodies in your plasma that could help people fight different dangerous infections, something that would only be discovered through a blood screening.
Who Can Donate
Now that we know cannabis consumers – whether you smoke, vape, dab, or consume edibles — are allowed to donate, let’s take a look at eligibility requirements for the donation of blood, plasma, or platelets. Requirements vary based on donation type, but here’s a baseline to meet:
Blood Donation Requirements:
- Must weigh at least 110 lbs.
- Must be at least 17 years of age
- Must be in good health
- Must be feeling well on the day of donation
It should be noted, however, that blood donation centers will not accept your donation if you show up to your appointment under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, opiates, or any other drug. Other disqualifying factors are drug use of any kind (steroids, prescriptions, heroin, etc) administered via needle.
Is It Safe to Donate Blood During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The Red Cross says, “As part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, healthy individuals can still donate in areas that have issued shelter in place declarations or are operating under a phased reopening plan. The Red Cross follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need.”
If you have any questions or concerns, it is always a good idea to call ahead, and discuss your situation with someone at the clinic you are interested in donating at.
In some states, the COVID-19 curve has been sufficiently flattened to allow for phased reopenings that allow for elective surgeries that were put on hold to free up hospital capacity, so there could be even more demand for blood than before the pandemic. So mask up, wash those hands, and get to donating.
Are you considering donating blood? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work – which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor – covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. is in need of blood. However, due to the onset of COVID-19 blood donations have plummetted. But blood donation is more important – and it should be said, safer than ever – especially as dwindling blood supplies desperately need to be shored up.