There’s no question that giving blood saves lives—and stoners are a surprisingly charitable bunch. We love giving back in whatever way we can, and giving blood is one of the easiest ways to make a tangible difference. Many of us want to help our community by becoming blood donors but can’t help but wonder: can you donate blood if you smoke weed?
Even though society is beginning to recognize cannabis as a medicine, it’s not yet federally legal and regulations vary from state to state. Plus, it can just be plain old awkward to ask a nurse if it’s okay that you spark up from time to time. So to end the confusion, we’re here to share everything you need to know about becoming a blood donor.
Can cannabis users donate blood?
The short answer is: yes. You can donate both your blood and plasma if you consume cannabis. Although many marijuana users may think they are ineligible to give blood, there is nothing that strictly bans you from becoming a donor.
However, the Red Cross website’s FAQ section published in September 2020 says, “The use of cannabis does not disqualify an individual from blood donation, but potential donors cannot give if their use of cannabis impairs their memory or comprehension.”
As you may have experienced, high levels of THC (the main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis) can temporarily affect your cognitive functions. If you regularly smoke ultra-potent buds like Amnesia Haze or Kush Mints, then it is possible that you will not be able to give blood.
Additionally, it may even be a good idea to switch to high-CBD strains like Harlequin or ACDC before you volunteer your blood cells. The lower levels of THC are less likely to impair cognitive functioning and may make you a better candidate for giving blood.
Do blood banks test for THC?
No matter what kind of strain you prefer, blood banks do not generally test for THC. Although you should never show up to the blood bank high, there are no rapid THC tests that can tell if you have something in your system.
In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require blood donation centers to test for THC, as reported by the Red Cross. While the presence of THC in your system should not directly disqualify you, any observable psychoactive effects of THC could be a disqualifying factor. So, just be responsible and save your smoke sesh for after your appointment at the blood bank.
Other Requirements for Donating Blood
Not everyone is a good candidate for donating blood, including those with synthetic marijuana in their system. If you medicate with K2, Spice, or the prescription drug Marinol, you cannot give blood. You also have to be over 16 years old and wait at least 56 days between blood bank appointments to give your body time to recover.
Other factors that might stop you from donating blood are:
- A piercing or tattoo within the last year
- Pregnancy or recent childbirth
- Steroid use
- Weighing less than 110 pounds
- Any sickness with a fever
- Low iron levels, which may be a red flag for anemia
- Traveling to a malaria-risk country within the past 3 years
- HIV or hepatitis infection
Other Ways to Help If You Cannot Give Blood
Whether you just got a nose piercing or are just scared of needles, there are plenty of other ways you can help out. You can:
- Host a Blood Drive
Blood drives are a crucial part of the donating process, so take the opportunity to host a blood drive. All you need is access to a large open space and the ability to recruit qualified blood donors.
- Host a Virtual Blood Drive
Through the SleevesUp, you can also organize a campaign for a virtual blood drive. Using the power of social media, you can send blood donation invitations to friends and family, no matter where they live.
- Volunteer at a Blood Drive
Check in with your local Red Cross and ask about their volunteer opportunities. They may need snacks or juice donated or someone to check donors in as they arrive.
- Make a Financial Donation
No one ever says no to money—and no amount of money is too small!
Smoking weed does not automatically disqualify you from donating blood, but you should be aware of blood donor requirements before scheduling an appointment. If you have more questions or want to volunteer, contact your nearest blood donation center and talk to your doctor before making the decision to give blood.