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Medical marijuana use gets kidney transplant patient kicked off waiting list – Right call?

Do you agree with doctors who kicked a kidney transplant patient off the waiting use because he felt he needed to use medical marijuana? According to Fox 19 News, Garry Godfrey had been on the kidney transplant list since 2003 because he suffers from Alport syndrome, which causes renal failure and he says, “debilitating pain, nausea and anxiety.” He is lobbying for a state bill to stop hospitals from signing his and other patient’s death warrants by kicking them off of transplant wait lists for using medical marijuana.

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Godfrey does not want to die because he believes he needs to use medical marijuana in order to keep the debilitating symptoms he suffers due to the disease at bay.  But he is fighting an uphill battle against Maine Medical Center which updated their policy concerning transplant patient eligibility in 2010.  The revised policy kicked Godfrey off of the waiting list after he used the medical weed.

The exclusion from the wait list seems unfair and nearly guarantees a death sentence for the kidney patient.  He emphasized, “I’ve tried so many pharmaceuticals and none of them worked, but the medical cannabis does. It helps me function. It helps me take care of my kids,” reported Fox 19 News.

Clay Holtzman, spokesman for the Maine Medical Center commented on the controversy in a released statement. He stressed that there were medical reasons for eliminating medical marijuana users from the wait list. “Our Drug Use policy currently prohibits transplant candidates from using marijuana… due to the risk of an invasive fungal infection known as Aspergillosis.” He explains that during the transplant process patients suffer the “risk of an invasive fungal infection known as Aspergillosis.”  It furthers explains that the fungal infection can be life-threatening for patients like Godfrey whose immune system has been compromised.

Despite the possible dire medical consequences possibly facing him if Godfrey had remained on the transplant list he wants the state to step in and pass a law that will prevent hospitals from removing transplant patients who take medical marijuana to help cope with the harsh symptoms that result from his illness.  On March 27, he testified in support of a bill that would stop Maine hospitals from removing patients from transplant lists for using medical marijuana.

The Maine man has good company in his legal medical fight.  While a Maine state legislative committee awaits discussion on the proposed bill, several states including California, Washington, Illinois, Arizona, Delaware and New Hampshire have passed similar laws.

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