Gene Johnson at the AP reports on another problem with the state of Washington’s medical marijuana laws:
Timothy Garon’s face and arms are hauntingly skeletal, but the fluid building up in his abdomen makes the 56-year-old musician look eight months pregnant. His liver, ravaged by hepatitis C, is failing. Without a new one, his doctors tell him, he will be dead in days. But Garon’s been refused a spot on the transplant list, largely because he has used marijuana, even though it was legally approved for medical reasons.
Garon was authorized by a doctor to use medical marijuana to counteract nausea and abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite, but that was irrelevant to the transplant committee at the University of Washington Medical Center. Officials at the hospital weren’t specific about his case, but one surgeon quoted in the article hinted that transplants can be denied for medical marijuana patients on the belief that they will not be able to stop using it after the transplant (for medical reasons, many doctors tell transplant patients that they must abstain from using medical marijuana as their bodies accept the new organ). This is a common misunderstanding about medical marijuana patients and it shows that even medical professionals will often see them as addicts rather than people who find medical benefit from the drug’s effects. It’s another reminder that even here in liberal Washington State, we still have a long way to go before those who find that medical marijuana is beneficial have the kinds of protections they need.