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Can You Donate Blood If You Use Marijuana?

closeup of arm donating blood

Uncertainty surrounding marijuana blood donations makes sense due to the substance’s illicit status and physiological effects. If you’re currently a cannabis user looking to donate blood, you may wonder if you’re even allowed to, and the answer is a resounding “yes.” Regular cannabis consumers can donate blood as long as they’re not impaired at the time of donation.

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Cannabis Use and Donating Blood

The American Red Cross estimates that someone in the U.S. needs blood or blood platelets nearly every two seconds. And the World Health Organization reports that more than 117 million people will need blood annually. Donating blood is an essential public service that can help save numerous lives. So despite marijuana consumption habits, most smokers can head to the nearest blood bank without issues.

“The Red Cross does not test blood donations for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the principle psychoactive component of the cannabis plant,” The American Red Cross told Leafwell in a statement. “The use of cannabis does not disqualify an individual from donating blood with the American Red Cross, but potential donors cannot give if their use of cannabis impairs their memory or comprehension.”

Even self-described heavy cannabis smokers who use high-THC concentrates like waxes or dabs can give blood if they’re not visibly high. The same rule applies to those who consume synthetic marijuana products.

Additionally, no data specifies how long to wait between cannabis use and blood donation. One reason may be that cannabis absorbs rapidly into the bloodstream, with effects peaking about 10 to 15 minutes after use. And after two to three hours, the compound clears from the bloodstream. As a result, the American Red Cross encourages all “eligible donors” to make an appointment to give blood.

Can You Donate Plasma?

Questions about marijuana blood donations also extend to blood plasma. Plasma makes up about 55% of the body’s total blood volume and is critical in maintaining healthy blood pressure, blood volume, and a proper pH balance.

A component of blood in which blood cells are absent, plasma contains proteins and other whole blood constituents necessary to support blood clotting and immune system responses. As a valuable part of treatment for various health problems, including cancer, severe trauma, and people with liver and clotting disorders, plasma donations are just as important as blood donations.

According to the Red Cross, people need nearly 10,000 units of plasma daily in the United States, and plasma transfusions are often lifesaving. Fortunately, cannabis and CBD consumers can donate plasma with the same freedom as blood contributions — the only rule is not to arrive visibly impaired.

Things That Do Disqualify You From Donating

Generally, healthy people who aren’t on certain medications can donate blood freely. However, some additional factors can disqualify people from donating blood:

  • Whole blood donors must be at least 16 years of age in most states and weigh at least 110 pounds. Other donation types require people to be at least 17-19 years old and weigh 130 pounds or more.
  • Donors can’t have certain blood-borne viruses, such as Hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS.
  • Certain cancers and a history of cancer can disqualify potential donors.
  • People cannot donate blood if they’ve had a blood transfusion in the last three months.
  • Blood donors cannot be pregnant or nursing.
  • Donors cannot be actively ill, have low iron, or be on antibiotics.

For more detailed information on what may disqualify people from donating blood, visit the American Red Cross’s eligibility criteria page.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What medications disqualify you from donating blood?

Certain medications will disqualify people from donating blood, regardless of health status. These include the popular acne medication Accutane, antibiotics, anti-platelet drugs, blood thinners, human growth hormones, certain medications for the prostate, Propecia for male-pattern hair loss, and medications for severe psoriasis. Visit the American Red Cross website for a detailed report of specific medicines that disqualify people from donating blood.

Does nicotine disqualify you from donating blood?

Most people can donate blood even if they smoke cigarettes or use vaping products with nicotine. However, blood banks ask that people refrain from ingesting nicotine products the day they plan to donate or approximately three hours before donating since nicotine products contain harmful chemicals that may affect a person’s blood.