Kidney patient taken off transplant list for using medical marijuana
AUGUSTA, Maine (WGME) -- A kidney patient in Maine has been taken off a transplant wait list for using medical marijuana.
State lawmakers are now considering a bill that would prohibit Maine hospitals from doing that, even though one local hospital says there are medical reasons to disqualify patients who use pot.
Garry Godfrey has Alport Syndrome, a hereditary disease which causes renal failure at a young age. He says it also causes 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 says he needs a new kidney and was put on Maine Medical Center's transplant list in 2003. In 2010, Maine Med adopted a new policy.
“I was informed that they changed their policy, that you can no longer use marijuana,” Godfrey said. “I was taken off the list."
Maine Medical Center spokesman Clay Holtzman could not comment on the specific case but issued a statement Tuesday.
"Our Drug Use policy currently prohibits transplant candidates from using marijuana, due to the risk of an invasive fungal infection known as Aspergillosis."
The Maine Med statement also says even during a transplant, this fungal infection can be life threatening for patients whose immune system is compromised.
Maine Med says once off marijuana, patients can requalify and get put back on the hospital's wait list.
But Godfrey says marijuana is the only drug that allows him to function.
"You should not be discriminated against for the type of medicine you choose," Godfrey said.
Godfrey testified in support of a bill that would prohibit hospitals from rejecting transplant patients solely for using medical marijuana. That bill is now in committee.