Can CBD and Cannabis Users Donate Blood?
Blood donation is one of the most-needed civic services no matter what time of year it is, and, if you use CBD or THC products, you may have wondered whether you should or could donate. The short answer is yes, whether you’re using hemp products or cannabis products, the American Red Cross and most blood donation centers will allow you to donate as long as you are not visibly impaired. There are some countries that have banned consumers from donating blood if they have partaken in any illicit or illegal substances, and your local donation center may have its own policies, but, generally speaking, the need for blood outweighs the desire to screen your blood for alcohol or cannabinoid metabolites.
The Need For Blood is Great
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion, and every donation can save up to three lives. More than 36,000 units of blood are needed every day. Because less than 38% of the population can donate and needed blood and platelets cannot be synthesized, donation is greatly encouraged for those that are eligible, and cannabis use, whether it is medical or recreational, illegal or legal, does not affect your eligibility in the United States.
According to the American Red Cross, the following conditions disqualify you from donating:
- Being positive for AIDs or hepatitis.
- If you have had a piercing without a sterile needle in the last 12 months.
- Being imprisoned.
- Being in the U.S military and serving in Iraq or Afghanistan in the last 12 months.
- Physically small people less than 110 pounds.
- If you have the flu.
- Pregnancy and recent childbirth.
- Having low levels of iron.
- If you have had most cancer or chemotherapy in the last five years.
- Having blood cancer.
- If you have had malaria in the last 12 months.
- Being on antibiotics.
Does cannabis or CBD affect your ability to donate?
The Red Cross has made the official statement that cannabis use, nor the presence of cannabinoids in the blood, disqualify donors nor do most facilities screen for these metabolites during registration of donation. The official statement reads:
“While the Red Cross does not encourage the use of controlled substances, marijuana or alcohol use does not necessarily disqualify you from giving blood as long as you are feeling well. If you have EVER injected any illegal drugs, you can never give blood.”
We reached out to local blood donation centers and the Red Cross for further information and have not received a response. Luckily, Leafly reached out to three Washington State donation companies who provided specific answers:
“Cannabis use does not affect a person’s ability to be a blood donor unless they are assessed to be under the influence as determined during the donor screening process. We cannot accept blood from anyone who is intoxicated with alcohol, cannabis, or prescription drugs because of the possibility of an unreliable history and the inability to give consent for the draw. The FDA does not require testing for THC either at registration or during testing for blood borne pathogens which all donated/collected blood receives. – Bloodworks Northwest”
“Blood Banks do not test for THC. Unfortunately, I cannot provide any advice to give a cannabis user who would like to make a donation. Sorry I could not help you more. – Cascade Regional Blood Service”
“Your blood will be tested for your blood type and infectious disease markers (including Hepatitis and Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV). These screening tests are to evaluate donor suitability and are not formal diagnostic tests. In addition, other tests may be performed based on your medical history or special testing required to qualify your plasma donation. Donors are also screened for syphilis, hematocrit, and protein levels. – Biomat USA”
Basically, labs are testing for the type of blood you have and screening for diseases that could be passed on, but they aren’t testing for substances that are in the blood, nor their metabolites, including THC and CBD. Unless you show up high as a kite, you likely won’t have an issue.
Should you donate blood if you use cannabis or hemp products that contain cannabinoids like CBD?
The ethics of donation as a cannabis or CBD consumer can be a delicate line to walk. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD enable many to live their lives without debilitating symptoms or chronic issues, but every individual’s endocannabinoid system is different, and responds differently to cannabinoids and their metabolites, which could possibly be transferred during donation and transfusion.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid cannabis for a week or so if you’re an occasional consumer who intended to donate blood. If you’re a medical consumer who uses THC or CBD products more regularly, consult with your doctor about whether or not they would advise you to donate.
At the end of the day, being sober for your donation will allow you to donate a much needed resource, and you’ll avoid most issues, but be sure to check with your local blood bank for specific information in advance of your appointment, and ask your doctor if you have specific questions about your lifestyle and how it may affect your ability to donate.
Blood Donation Centers Contacted:
American Red Cross via Form
Vitalant in Golden, CO via form
Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, CO via form