Denied a Liver Transplant for Using Medical Marijuana,
and Dying for It -- The Heartlessness of Prohibition

CC: By Matthew Donigian, AlterNet - April 24 2013

The tragic fate of Norman B. Smith is all you need to know about to see how senseless it is to make consumption of marijuana a crime.

After being diagnosed with liver cancer in 2009, Norman B. Smith applied to the liver transplant list at Cedar-Sinai hospital. While waiting for a transplant, Mr. Smith underwent chemotherapy in an attempt to destroy the cancer eating away at his liver. This caused severe side-effects, common to many cancer patients. In an attempt to curb the pain, and on the recommendation of his oncologist, Mr. Smith began using medical marijuana.


Cannabis has become increasingly common as a medicine of choice for patients undergoing chemotherapy, since it increases appetite and reduces pain—minimizing the chance of a patient developing cancer related wasting syndrome. Finally, in September of 2010, Mr. Smith was notified that he was eligible for a liver transplant and was placed on the liver transplant list. Mr. Smith continued his treatment and submitted to drug testing per the hospital's transplant list policy. After testing positive for THC (one of the active chemicals in marijuana), Mr. Smith was taken off the transplant list and denied a life saving procedure. Mr. Smith died because of this. It did not matter to the hospital that Mr. Smith's marijuana use was non-recreational, and was approved by his oncologist as a way to treat his chemotherapy side effects.

This story is a more common than one might think. While working at NORML I received a call from a 19 year-old medical marijuana patient who had a rare liver cancer. This patient tried everything to control the pain and nausea that plagued her everyday. Pills, healthy foods, acupuncture. . . nothing worked. In fact, many of the prescription drugs given to her by her doctor either worsened her nausea or caused other severe side-effects. Finally, she tried medical marijuana, which her oncologist said might be a good option if she could find a reliable source. She tried it, and it worked.

After hearing about Mr. Smith, she became terrified that her marijuana use might jeopardize her chances of getting a new liver. How could this be possible? "I want my liver transplant, but I can't imagine living without my medicine, it would be too painful". Unfortunately, due to patient confidentiality laws, it is impossible to know how many people like Mr. Smith there are. But the number will continue to grow as marijuana continues to become an accepted treatment for cancer related pain and nausea. These are the human costs of the war on drugs.

- Read the entire article at AlterNet.

When leaders act contrary to conscience


Park City man denied lung transplant in Utah because of traces of marijuana dies
The University of Utah decides a man’s fate for marijuana use; a delay in transplanting a lung sends him to Philadelphia for the operation where he ultimately dies of complications:

The Kaiser Permanente study
"Marijuana Use and Mortality" April 1997 American Journal of Public Health"."Relatively few adverse clinical effects from the chronic use of marijuana have been documented in humans. However, the criminalization of marijuana use may itself be a health hazard, since it may expose the users to violence and criminal activity."

Family says hospital wouldn't give teen lung transplant over pot

The USA Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy 1987
"Cannabis can be used on an episodic but continual basis without evidence of social or psychic dysfunction. In many users the term dependence with its obvious connotations, probably is mis-applied... The chief opposition to the drug rests on a moral and political, and not toxicologic, foundation".

California Woman Denied Essential Heart Transplant
Because She Uses MMJ

The Economist March 28th 1992:
"Medicines often produce side effects.
Sometimes they are physically unpleasant.
Cannabis too has discomforting side effects,
but these are not physical, they are political"

Hospitals Deny Patients Organ Transplants for Smoking Weed

The Heartlessness of Dying for Prohibition

"From time to time, I say that the suppression of medical marijuana is murder. This is not quite correct. It is actually mass murder. It has caused the deaths of countless thousands of people."
~ the Financial Times Limited, 1998
(Ed. note: The FT is the London equivalent of the Wall Street Journal. This drug could be patented, so it is of interest to the financial community.)

Everyone Who’s Died Of A Marijuana Overdose
In 2006, a study in American Scientist compared the relative toxicity of marijuana to other commonly used substances, including some legal ones. It found that just 10 times the effective dose of alcohol and five times the effective dose of heroin could be enough to cause death in humans. Marijuana ranked among the least toxic drugs.

White House Taps Big Pharma-Loving, Pot-Hating Drug Czar

Homeland Security Chief:
We’ll Absolutely Deport People for Marijuana

The Racist Ganjawar
Nixon's Re-Inventing Jim Crow,
Targeting Blacks & The Counter Culture

"Look, we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue...that we couldn't resist it."
- John Ehrlichman,
White House counsel to President Nixon
on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

"The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to. Nixon emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks"
H.R. "Bob" Haldeman,
President Richard M. Nixon's White House chief of staff

Last Edited By: DdC Apr 23 17 9:27 PM. Edited 1 time.