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Kidney Failure Patient Loses Spot on Transplant List Over Medical Marijuana Use

Maine legislators have proposed a bill to prevent hospitals from denying care to MMJ users.

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A patient suffering from renal failure has been removed from a transplant wait list because he has been using medical marijuana.

Maine resident Garry Godfrey is suffering from Alport Syndrome, a hereditary disease that causes renal failure, along with debilitating pain, nausea, and anxiety. "I've tried so many pharmaceuticals and none of them worked, but the medical cannabis does,” Godfrey said. “It helps me function. It helps me take care of my kids."

Godfrey has been on a kidney transplant list since 2003, but in 2010 Maine Med adopted a new policy disallowing transplant patients from using MMJ. “I was informed that they changed their policy, that you can no longer use marijuana,” he said. “I was taken off the list."

In a statement, Maine Med explained that their “Drug Use policy currently prohibits transplant candidates from using marijuana, due to the risk of an invasive fungal infection known as Aspergillosis." This infection is life-threatening to patients whose immune system is compromised.

Maine Med also said that patients like Godfrey can requalify and get back on the waiting list if they temporarily cease using medical marijuana. Godfrey, however, feels that he will not be able to function without his preferred medicine. Godfrey recently testified in support of a new bill that would prohibit hospitals from rejecting patients over their use of medical marijuana. This bill is currently in committee.