We all know that donating blood saves lives, but is it okay to donate it if you use cannabis?
The quick answer is, YES.
Smoking cannabis does not disqualify you from giving blood.
However, the clinic is likely to turn you away if you show up to your appointment visibly high.
Every two seconds, a resident of this country needs blood. An estimated 4.5 million Americans require a blood transfusion annually.
Donating blood is very important as every drop can save someone’s life. It is easy to donate blood and it takes only 10-12 minutes to do so. Health experts also encourage everyone to donate blood as this is also healthy for the body.
The body replenishes lost blood and this enhances cardiovascular health, reduces your risk of cancer and obesity. The same goes for donating blood plasma.
Blood banks also welcome plasma donations. Blood plasma is used for treating trauma and severe bleeding.
What is blood plasma?
Blood plasma is a blood component with a yellowish color. When donated blood is left standing, you can expect blood to separate from the plasma in a short while. Blood plasma is the liquid portion of blood that delivers various proteins and cells to different areas of the body.
Plasma is vital as it helps us when we are sick. Blood plasma ensures that the body’s electrolytes are in check and prevent infections or the development of blood disorders. Donated plasma is used by patients to balance the body’s proteins and cells. The proteins can help detect different diseases and treat them.
This is why all blood centers and hospitals are required to have a steady supply of plasma as well as other blood products.
What is a plasma donation?
In a plasma-only donation, the liquid portion of the donor’s blood is separated from the cells. Blood is drawn from one arm and sent through a high-tech machine that collects the plasma. The donor’s red blood cells and platelets are then returned to the donor along with some saline. The process is safe and only takes a few minutes longer than donating whole blood.
Donated plasma is frozen within 24 hours of being donated to preserve its valuable clotting factors. It can be stored for up to one year and thawed for transfusion to a patient when needed.
Uses for plasma donations
Doctors can use plasma to treat different kinds of serious health problems.
Some of the elements in plasma, including the antibodies and chemicals that help your blood to clot, can help in medical emergencies like burns and trauma.
Other things that plasma donation is good for include:
- Developing treatments: The antibodies and proteins can also be used to develop treatments for rare diseases, including some immune system problems.
- Cancer: Adults and children with different kinds of cancer, including leukemia, sometimes need plasma transfusions.
- Transplant surgery: Some people who get liver or bone marrow transplants need plasma.
- Hemophilia: In this rare disorder, a person’s blood does not have enough clotting factors, so donated plasma can help.
What is the general blood donation criteria?
If you wish to donate blood and plasma, there are a few rules to consider. First and foremost, only apply if you are in good general health. In most states, the minimum age is 17 years. However, some states allow 16-year-olds to donate if they have parental consent. You also have to weigh at least 110 pounds.
Incidentally, you are allowed to donate:
- Blood every 56 days
- Platelets every seven days (maximum of 24 times a year)
- Plasma every 28 days (maximum of 13 days in a year)
- Power Red every 112 days (up to three times a year)
Some important precautions of weed use before donating blood
Yes, you can donate blood even if you use marijuana but you must remember the following before you do:
- Avoid smoking hours before the donation or at least a day before you donate. This will ensure that THC is not in your blood.
- Do not eat any cannabis edibles either. This cannabis product takes longer to remove out of your system and thus THC will remain longer in your blood.
- If you are too high or intoxicated, you may have low blood pressure or hypotension. Having either of these can potentially prohibit you from donating blood.
Should I donate blood even though I smoke weed?
There is no legal obstacle to becoming a regular blood donor as long as you do not smoke marijuana immediately before the donation. Cynics will suggest that the blood of a cannabis user is unsuitable for a baby, infant, or toddler. However, it is essential to remember that the psychoactive compound THC will be gone by the time the blood is transferred to somebody else.
Regular vs. Occasional cannabis users
But what about if you are a regular user of cannabis? The rules for blood donation are not any different for those who use cannabis often, rather than just every once in a while. Both regular and occasional users of cannabis can donate blood, provided that they meet all the other qualifications for blood donation.
THC does tend to take longer to exit your system if you are a regular user of cannabis. However, there is no danger that a donor-recipient can get a “contact high” from your marijuana-infused blood, so you are in the clear, whether you are a regular or occasional cannabis user.
Forms of marijuana not allowed
You can donate if you have smoked marijuana. However, you cannot donate if you have 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.