At the University of Vermont Medical Center, the only hospital in the state where kidney transplants are performed, potential recipients undergo a rigorous screening to get a shot at the life-changing operation. Among the factors that Dr. Carlos Marroquin, the chief of transplant surgery, considers is whether a patient uses marijuana, including medical cannabis.
“Because of the risks of infections, the unknown risk of cancer, because of the unknown effects on blood vessels, we try to select out for a healthy lifestyle, and so we strongly encourage patients against smoking marijuana,” Marroquin said. “I think it’s a risk.”
Legislation under consideration in the Vermont House would take at least some of the decision making out of the hands of physicians such as Marroquin. The proposal would prohibit medical providers from disqualifying a patient “from any needed medical procedure or treatment, including organ and tissue transplants” solely because the patient uses marijuana for medical reasons.
The proposal is meant to protect patients on the medical marijuana registry, which was created when Vermont legalized cannabis for