The Red Cross does not disqualify cannabis users from blood donation. Learn more about donation eligibility and how you can help. Yes, you can donate blood if you use cannabis. You cannot, however, donate blood if you’re currently under the influence of cannabis. Read! Donating plasma is a choice often made out of a desire to help others or a desire to be compensated for this donation. In either case, the recipients of plasma can continue their medical therapy. A common question we hear is, can you donate plasma if you smoke weed? Let’s take a closer look together.
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.
Can you donate plasma or blood if you smoke weed?
Yes, you can donate blood and plasma if you use cannabis. However, there are some things you need to know before you go.
You cannot donate blood if you’re currently under the influence of cannabis. The Red Cross recommends that you avoid using marijuana on the day you’re planning to donate blood. Not only is it against the rules to give blood while in an altered state, you would also be at an increased risk of low blood pressure and lightheadedness, which could lead to fainting after giving blood.
What you need to know about donating blood and using weed
- Use of cannabis doesn’t automatically disqualify you from giving blood.
- The recipient of the blood will not get high – THC is quickly passed from your bloodstream into your brain and fat tissue. 1
- The Red Cross doesn’t test blood for THC.
- You can’t show up for your appointment visibly impaired, under the influence of cannabis, alcohol, or any other substance.
Does the consumption method matter?
While you can give blood if you consume cannabis, you should be aware of how long the THC lasts in your system. A smoking high usually lasts a few hours, with residual effects lasting up to 6 hours. An edible high lasts for about 6-8 hours and residual effects can last over 12 hours.
That’s why it’s best to abstain from cannabis consumption on the day of your appointment.
Difference between CBD and THC in your system
The main disqualifier for giving blood if you use cannabis is showing up to your appointment visibly impaired. If you’ve recently consumed a large amount of THC and are clearly stoned for your donation, you could be asked to reschedule. CBD however, doesn’t impair cognition in the same way and the effects aren’t generally noticeable. In other words, you can use CBD and still give blood.
Who can donate blood?
Nearly anyone can donate blood! The Red Cross, the oldest blood bank in the world, has a short list of requirements for donating blood:
- At least 17 years old (in most states, in the US)
- In good health and feeling well
- Weigh at least 110 pounds (50kg)
You cannot donate blood if you:
- Have had a piercing or tattoo within the last 3 months
- Are pregnant or postpartum (6 weeks after birth, according to the Red Cross)
- Are a man who had sex with a man in the previous 3 months
- Take medication that interferes with blood clotting
- Take certain medication that can be detrimental to a growing fetus (teratogens)
- Have traveled to a malaria risk country within 3 years
And while being a weed smoker doesn’t preclude you from donating blood, you may be restricted from donating blood or plasma if you’ve used synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or spice, but this guideline varies by location.
Can you smoke weed after donating blood or plasma?
Yes, you can smoke weed after donating blood. But since you have less blood (and plasma protein) in your body, there’s less for the THC to bind to, which may lead to you feeling higher than normal. When you smoke, THC is absorbed rapidly through the lungs into the bloodstream, where it is transported by plasma proteins around the body and into the brain. Less circulating plasma after donation means less protein to bind up THC, and therefore more pronounced effects. 2 3
Smoking cannabis (specifically THC) can also cause rapid heart rate and changes in blood pressure. Considering these side effects, THC could add to the risk of fainting or falling after blood donation. 4
Why donating blood is so important
Donating blood or plasma is a quick, nearly painless process that saves millions of lives per year. Thankfully cannabis use is not a barrier to blood donation, allowing millions of generous stoners to donate the gift of life all around the world.
Patients suffering from life-threatening conditions and those undergoing surgeries rely on the generosity of blood donors. If you are interested in donating blood, learn more here for the US and here for the UK. 5
Can You Donate Plasma If You Smoke Weed?
Donating plasma is an individual choice that is often made out of one of these two reasons: a desire to help others by providing vital and under-sourced medical fluids, or a desire to be compensated for this donation. In either case, the recipients of plasma can continue their medical therapy. A common question we hear is, can you donate plasma if you smoke weed? Let’s take a closer look together.
Who Qualifies To Donate Plasma
In Canada, all individuals 17 years of age and older are able to donate plasma . If you are between the ages of 17-23 there are specific height and weight requirements for first-time donors. Many profile factors can disqualify you from donating plasma, such as having an infection (antibiotics), certain medical diagnoses (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Hepatitis B), and geographic deferrals (disqualified based on living in a certain location). These rules are changing to allow more individuals to participate in plasma donation.
Cannabis does not disqualify individuals from donating plasma in Canada. However, cannabis intoxication (like alcohol intoxication) will disqualify an individual from donating as they are considered to lack the capacity to consent. The previous 12-hour waiting period after use has been scrapped in favour of in-person screening. Therefore, using any form of cannabis in your past does not disqualify you.
Why Is Cannabis Use Not Disqualified?
The THC in cannabis is the substance that provides the “high”. THC quickly binds to fats and is moved to the brain , thus does not pass on to the recipient of the plasma. Also, a potential added benefit for the donor is that with less blood, the same amount of marijuana can get you higher post extraction. Of course, it is best to take it slow to avoid smoking too much and experiencing adverse effects.
Benefits Of Donating Plasma
Moreover, one of the benefits that most overlook in donating plasma is testing. All blood products are vigorously tested, and donors will be informed of their status if any infectious agents are found. Most collection sites also provide an average payment of $50 per extraction. Collection sites have limits on how much and how often a donor can donate plasma. This relates to both the donor’s health, as well as the increased extraction time that compounds the more often extractions are performed.
Side Effects of Donating Plasma
Overall, donating plasma is a safe experience for most individuals. Professional extraction sites will use sterile instruments and environments. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “for most people, donating plasma does not cause any side effects, but some donors can experience fatigue, bruising, bleeding, or dehydration.” Nevertherless, they do note that serious infections or reactions can occur after donating, but are rare. For these minor side effects , food, water and rest are indicated. If more serious complications arise, seek medical attention.
Time to Get Informed
In Canada, you can donate plasma as a cannabis user as long as you are sober at the time of donation. For plasma donation, the side effects are generally minor overall. Compensation is available for plasma donation; however, due to the amount of time necessary between extractions, it should not be considered a reliable revenue stream. If you are looking for more information about the connection between cannabis and health, head to the Parkdale Brass blog ! For more cannabis education, hop on over to our Instagram ! Remember to visit The Parkdale Brass shop to peruse our current offerings.