We all know that donating blood saves lives, but is it okay to donate it if you use cannabis? The quick answer is, YES. However, the clinic is likely to turn you away if you show up to your appointment visibly high. The Red Cross does not disqualify cannabis users from blood donation. Learn more about donation eligibility and how you can help.
Can You Donate Plasma If You Smoke Weed?
It is common knowledge that blood donations can saves lives, but are you allowed to donate it if you use cannabis?
The quick answer is, YES.
Smoking cannabis does not disqualify you from giving blood.
However, the clinic will likely turn you away if you appear visibly high during your appointment.
Every two seconds, a resident of the United States needs blood. An estimated 4.5 million Americans require a blood transfusion every year.
Donating blood is a crucial deed that can save lives. Donating blood is easy to do and it only takes about 10-12 minutes. Many health experts also suggest that donating blood is healthy for the body.
The body replenishes lost blood which improves cardiovascular health, reduces your risk of obesity and cancer. The same applies to donating blood plasma.
Blood banks also need plasma donations. Blood plasma is important for treating trauma and severe bleeding.
What is blood plasma?
Blood plasma is a yellowish liquid component of blood that holds the blood cells, proteins, and other elements of whole blood. When donated blood is left standing, it separates from the plasma after only a short while.
Plasma is critical in helping those who are sick. Blood plasma regulates the body’s electrolytes and prevents infections from occurring as well as the development of blood disorders. Donated plasma encourages the balance of a patient’s protein count. Those proteins can help identify different diseases and treat them.
Thusly, it is crucial for blood banks and hospitals to have a significant supply of plasma as well as regular blood donations.
What is a plasma donation?
During a plasma donation, the liquid portion of the donor’s blood is separated from the cells. Blood is drawn from a person’s arm and is sent through a high-tech machine that collects the plasma. The red blood cells and platelets of the donor are then returned through the arm along with some saline. This process is perfectly safe and takes just a few minutes longer than donating whole blood.
Within 24 hours of being donated the plasma is frozen to preserve its valuable clotting abilities. It can safely be preserved for up to one year and thawed for transfusion to a patient when necessary.
Uses for plasma donations
Medical experts can use plasma to treat different kinds of serious health problems.
Certain elements found in plasma, including the antibodies and chemicals that help your blood to clot, can help treat some ailments like burns and trauma.
Other things that plasma donation can help with include:
- Developing treatments: The antibodies and proteins can be used to develop treatments for rare diseases, including certain immune system deficiencies.
- Cancer: Adults and adolescents with different forms of cancer, such as leukemia, may need plasma transfusions.
- Transplant surgery: Some patients that receive liver or bone marrow transplants need plasma.
- Hemophilia: A rare disorder in which a person’s blood does not have a sufficient number of clotting factors.
What are the guidelines for a blood/plasma donation?
Before you decide to donate blood and plasma, there are some considerations to be had. First and most importantly, only apply if you are generally in good health. In most states, the minimum age to donate is 17 years old. However, some states will allow 16-year-olds to donate assuming they have consent from a legal guardian. People donating must also weigh at least 110 pounds.
People are only allowed to donate as often as:
- Blood every 56 days or 8 weeks.
- Platelets every 7 days with a maximum of 24 times a year.
- Plasma every 28 days or 4 weeks with a maximum of 13 days in a year.
- Red blood cells every 112 days or 8 weeks and up to 3 times a year.
Some important precautions of weed use before donating plasma
You are allowed to donate blood even if you are a cannabis user except you must follow these preliminary mesures:
- Avoid smoking for 24 hours before you donate. This way you should not have any active THC in your plasma.
- Do not ingest any cannabis edibles. Edibles take much longer to exit your system and therefore THC will remain in your plasma for longer.
- If you are high or intoxicated while donating, you could have low blood pressure or hypotension. These sort of conditions will prevent you from being eligible to donate plasma.
Should I donate plasma even though I smoke weed?
Legally, it is perfectly acceptable to become a regular plasma donor as long as you avoid cannabis products 24 hours before the donation. Critics of cannabis may suggest that the blood of a cannabis user is unsuitable for a baby, infant, or toddler. However, there is no evidence to back this theory up. It is important to understand that THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) will no longer be in the plasma or blood by the time the blood is transferred to another person.
Regular vs. Occasional cannabis users
Does all of this information still pertain to chronic weed users? These guidelines for blood and plasma donation do not change regardless of how often a person uses cannabis. Both consistent and occasional users of cannabis can donate blood, as long as they meet all the other qualifications for blood and plasma donation.
While THC does take longer to break down and exit the system of a regular user, it is not possible for a donor-recipient to feel any effects from weed-infused blood. Therefore, the amount of THC in your system is irrelevant.
Forms of cannabis not allowed
You can donate plasma if you have consumed cannabis. However, you cannot donate if you have smoked or ingested a synthetic form of weed.
Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice, is a human-made chemical with a similar make-up to the marijuana plant. It is an unregulated, psychoactive substance classified under the group called new psychoactive substances (NPS).
Another common synthetic marijuana product is an FDA-approved medication called Marinol. If you are taking Marinol for a medical condition, such as nausea from chemotherapy or loss of appetite from HIV infection, you are not eligible to donate plasma.
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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.