The Maine Legislature has approved a new bill that would prevent doctors from denying medical marijuana patients organ transplants. The bill, LD 764, would mandate that a patient's use of medical marijuana “may not be the sole disqualifying factor in determining the qualifying patient’s suitability for receiving an anatomical gift.”
At a public hearing for the bill, legislators heard testimony from Garry Godfrey, who was denied a kidney transplant over his use of medical marijuana. Godfrey suffers from Alport Syndrome, a hereditary disease that causes renal failure, along with debilitating pain, nausea, and anxiety. Godfrey had been on a kidney transplant list since 2003, but was removed from the list in 2010 due to his hospital's new drug use policy.
Godfrey told lawmakers that he used medical marijuana to deal with the nausea and other symptoms brought on by his illness. “As I saw it, I only had one choice,” Godfrey said. “Marijuana made it possible for me to function daily and take care of my family. I should have never had to choose between a lifesaving organ transplant and a lifesaving medicine.”
The bill was passed by the state House last week, and by the state Senate early this week, and is currently awaiting approval by Governor Paul LePage.