Marijuana and blood donation

Each year, blood donors save the lives of hundreds of patients. Blood is one of the priceless medicines for which the demand never decreases. In Poland alone, more than 605 thousand people donated blood in 2015, 99% of whom are honorary donors. We are encouraged to donate blood at almost every step, sometimes despite our sincere desire we cannot do it. Why? There is a long list of specific situations that disqualify us temporarily or permanently as blood donors. Use of drugs according to the rules prevents the donation of blood, but as we know drug is not the same as drug. Does the occasional use of drugs exclude us from the blood donor community?

Marijuana and blood donation in the United States?

The topic of blood donation by marijuana users is increasingly being discussed in various parts of the world. An undoubted impetus for the above reflection remains the increasing legalization movement. A journalist associated with wrote an email to three Washington blood donation facilities to investigate how the issue of blood and cannabis donation plays out. I am writing a news article for and would like information on cannabis and blood donation. June 14 is World Blood Donor Day. Is the presence of THC checked before donating blood. If so, does the presence of THC disqualify one from donating blood. What advice can you give to cannabis smokers who want to donate blood? Bloodworks Northwest, Cascade Regional Blood Services provided the following response - Cannabis use does not affect a person's ability to be a blood donor unless they are currently under the influence of psychoactive substances. We cannot accept blood from anyone who is under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs due to the potential for all sorts of abnormalities. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not require THC or pathogen testing of all blood donors/recipients. A person associated with Cascade Regional Blood Service adds - The blood bank does not test for THC, unfortunately I cannot give any more advice to cannabis users who wish to donate blood adds.

Red Cross and blood donation

Not satisfied with the answer, the journalist examined the advice given by the American Red Cross branch. The American Red Cross remains the largest supplier of blood in the United States, supplying about 2,600 hospitals, covering 40% of the blood supply. According to the information brochure provided, the Red Cross does not encourage the use of substances such as marijuana or alcohol, however their use does not disqualify you from donating blood as long as you feel well. However, if you have ever taken illegal substances by injecting them directly into your blood, you cannot donate blood. The American Red Cross does not test for THC; however, according to FDA regulation, people under the influence of legal and illegal drugs or alcohol are not allowed to donate.

What should I do before donating blood?

In order to safely donate blood, we must generally be in good shape, eat a hearty meal and take in plenty of fluids immediately prior to donating blood. Marijuana is metabolized by the body into two substances: 11-OH-THC and 1-nor-9-carboxy-THC. The metabolism takes place relatively quickly, and the body gets rid of THC and 11-OH-THC in a short period of time. The concentration of the psychoactive compounds is quickly gone, and we can speed up the process by drinking lots of water or lemon juice. The best advice, according to, is to quit marijuana and any stimulants before donating blood so that the body remains free of unwanted substances. With moderate-to-frequent smoking, THC can be detected in the blood for up to 3 days. A pause of a few days should suffice, before donating blood. At a time when the need for blood is constantly increasing, we should not prevent people who like to smoke pot from time to time from donating blood.

Blood donation and marijuana in Poland?

The story of a certain resident of Olsztyn who was refused blood donation is probably already familiar to everyone. As a reminder, the woman was disqualified for life because she admitted to smoking cannabis. The case quickly hit the media, and supporters of marijuana felt outraged. RCKiK had been in contact with similar cases before, although they were sporadic episodes. Grażyna Kula, director of the RCKiK in Olsztyn, argues that the disqualification was for the "good of the recipient" and that "the RCKiK does not argue with regulations, but adheres to them strictly. The snag is that there is no law governing marijuana versus blood donation. General provisions on who can be a donor are contained in the Ordinance of the Minister of Health of 2005, but there is no subsection on cannabis. Opinions are quite divided - RCKiK in Wrocław strongly condemns smoking marijuana. The Institute of Hematology and Transfusiology in Warsaw believes that blood cannot be donated "while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or excessive nervous excitement. Ambiguous answers were given by the Regional Center for Blood Donation and Haemotherapy in Lodz - "people who take drugs cannot donate blood" and "If you no longer smoke, please come forward to donate" or "Please inform your doctor about smoking, he will make a decision after talking to you". As we can see, it is difficult to get any precise information on this issue.

Voice of reason - statement of the director of Poltransplant

Director of Organizational and Coordination Centre for Transplantation "Poltransplant", prof. dr hab. med. Roman Danielewicz said: "The decision is made by a doctor after getting acquainted with documentation of a potential donor and after his examination. Without knowing details of a particular case it is difficult to comment on disqualification of a particular donor (e.g. a person smoking marihuana). However, it is worth remembering that smoking marijuana is not considered legal and in some cases may be a prelude to more risky health behaviors. The statement of Mr. Roman Danielewicz gives some hope for better treatment of potential donors-smokers in Poland.

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