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Can You Donate Blood If You Use Cannabis?

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.

The Red Cross does not disqualify cannabis users from blood donation. Learn more about donation eligibility and how you can help.

Can You Give Blood If You Smoke?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), nearly 5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year.

There are many reasons why someone could need a blood transfusion, such as:

  • a severe accident or injury
  • surgery
  • diseases or conditions such as anemia and hemophilia

The blood that’s used for this important procedure is collected through the process of blood donation. Donating blood is a great way to help someone who’s in need of a blood transfusion.

When you donate blood, you’ll need to answer some questions about your health, lifestyle, and travel history to determine your eligibility.

Does smoking disqualify you from donating blood? Read on to learn more.

Smoking cannabis doesn’t disqualify you from giving blood. However, the clinic is likely to turn you away if you show up to your appointment visibly high.

In a statement to Healthline, the American Red Cross said: “While the Red Cross does not encourage the use of controlled substances, marijuana, cigarettes or alcohol use does not necessarily disqualify a person from giving blood. Potential donors cannot give while under the influence of licit or illicit drugs or alcohol. Legal or illegal use of marijuana is not otherwise a cause of deferral.”

Smoking cigarettes in and of itself doesn’t disqualify you from donating blood.

If you smoke and you want to donate blood, plan to refrain from smoking on the day of your appointment — both before your appointment and for three hours afterward.

Smoking before your appointment can lead to an increase in blood pressure. This may disqualify you from donating. Smoking afterward may lead to dizziness.

In the United States, possible disqualifiers can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • using illicit injection drugs
  • using injection drugs not prescribed by your doctor, such as steroids
  • feeling sick or having an acute infection on or before the day of your appointment
  • being pregnant or having given birth within the past six weeks
  • receiving a tattoo or piercing within the past year
  • getting a blood transfusion or an organ transplant in the past year
  • having HIV or testing positive for hepatitis B or C
  • having had leukemia, lymphoma, or other cancers of the blood
  • having had the Ebola virus
  • having an inherited blood clotting disorder
  • being a man who’s had sexual contact with other men within the past year

It’s important to discuss these things when you arrive at the clinic to determine if any of them apply to you.

Medications

Using certain medications may temporarily disqualify you from donating blood. They include:

  • acitretin, a drug used for severe psoriasis
  • blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and heparin
  • dutasteride (Avodart, Jalyn), which is used for enlarged prostate
  • isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis), an acne drug
  • teriflunomide (Aubagio), which is used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS)

Depending on the medication, you may have to wait anywhere from two days to three years after your last dose until you’re eligible to donate blood again.

In rare cases, having used certain medications will permanently disqualify you from donating blood. This includes human pituitary-derived growth hormone and the psoriasis drug etretinate (Tegison), both of which are now banned in the United States.

Travel history

Your travel history can also determine whether you’re eligible to donate blood. You may be subject to a waiting period if you’ve recently traveled to a country with a high risk of malaria, such as Brazil, India, or parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

You may not be eligible to donate if you’ve spent an extended amount of time in places where variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is found, such as many countries in Europe. vCJD is a rare condition more commonly known as “mad cow disease.”

Having previously received a blood transfusion in France or the United Kingdom, both areas where vCJD is found, would also make you ineligible to donate.

Even though smoking doesn’t disqualify you from donating blood, it can eventually lead to conditions that can be disqualifiers for blood donation. These can include:

  • Cancers. You can’t donate if you’re currently being treated for cancer or if you’ve had leukemia or lymphoma. People who’ve had other types of cancer may need to wait one year after successful treatment.
  • High blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high at the time of donation, you may not be able to donate.
  • Heart and lung disease. If you’re actively having symptoms of a heart or lung condition, you’re not eligible for donation. Additionally, if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, you may need to wait up to six months before donating.

There are certain stimulants and drugs that can disqualify you from giving blood, but can you donate blood if you smoke? In many cases, the answer is yes. Learn more about the factors that determine whether you’re eligible to give blood. We'll tell you what you can do and how you can be a donor, even if you do smoke.