California: Governor Signs Bill Ending Transplant Discrimination Against Marijuana Patients
California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday signed AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act. AB 258 prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients in the organ transplant process, unless a doctor has determined that medicinal cannabis use is clinically significant to the transplant process.
Medical cannabis patients in California have been routinely removed from the organ transplant waiting list if they test positive for cannabis use – even legal doctor-recommended medical marijuana. AB 258 was authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
“AB 258’s passage is the result of ASA’s membership tirelessly working for over two years,” said Don Duncan, ASA’s California director. “In California, legal medical cannabis patients will never again face a choice between their doctor-recommended medicine and a life-saving organ transplant.
"Governor Brown deserves credit for protecting medical cannabis patients from this harmful discriminatory practice that has no basis in medical research,” Duncan said.
On June 15, more than 200 patients and advocates participated in the ASA California Citizen Lobby Day, which focused on educating lawmakers about AB 258 and other medical cannabis legislation. During the lobby day ASA began a postcard campaign to encourage Governor Brown to support AB 258.
“AB 258’s passage represents a big victory in the fight to end discrimination against medical cannabis patients in California,” said Steph Sherer, ASA’s executive director. “With AB 258 passing by such overwhelming margins in California we hope to see more states follow suit by passing legislation to end organ transplant discrimination against medical cannabis patients.”
AB 258 will ensure that "A hospital, physician and surgeon, procurement organization, or other person shall not determine the ultimate recipient of an anatomical gift based solely upon a potential recipient's status as a qualified patient...or based solely on a positive test for the use of medical marijuana by a potential recipient who is a qualified patient."
On April 30, the California Assembly voted in favor of the bill by a margin of 52-8. On June 22, the California State Senate passed AB 258 by an even more overwhelming margin of 31-1.