Medical Marijuana Patient At Cedars-Sinai Denied Kidney Transplant

Patient Kicked Off Kidney Transplant List For Using Medical Marijuana

Toni Trujillo, a medical marijuana patient in Los Angeles, was removed from the kidney transplant list at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center earlier this year, patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access said it has learned. Trujillo is the second patient in the last year to be removed from the hospital's transplant lists for medical marijuana use.

The medical marijuana advocacy group called on the medical center to reconsider its policy on medical marijuana and restore Trujillo to the transplant list. In a letter Monday, the group said Trujillo has had kidney problems for most of her life and has been on dialysis for five years.

"Denying necessary transplants to medical marijuana patients is the worst kind of discrimination," said Americans for Safe Access chief counsel Joe Elford in a statement. "Cedars-Sinai would not be breaking any laws, federal or otherwise, by granting Toni Trujillo a kidney transplant, and it's certainly the ethical thing to do."

Trujillo has been using medical marijuana as an appetite stimulant since she first came to California two years ago. In doing so, she's managed to increase her protein levels, a critical concern for dialysis patients. In April, after waiting for a transplant for six years, she learned she had been delisted for "substance abuse." She said she had never before had any push back from the hospital about her medical marijuana use.

"I don't know why Cedars would deny me a transplant simply because I use a legal medication that works for me," said Trujillo in a statement. "I hope they listen to reason and change their misguided policy, if not for me then at least for the others who will certainly follow."

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trujillo isn't the first patient to be delisted for using medical marijuana. In 2011 medical marijuana patient Norman B. Smith, who'd been diagnosed with an inoperable liver cancer in 2009 and used the drug to mitigate the pain of chemotherapy, was removed from the liver transplant list days before he would have become eligible for a new organ. He was told last week he has 90 days to live.

Both patients must take drug counseling and test negative for marijuana for six months to re-qualify for the waiting list. While Trujillo and Smith have said they'll comply and expected to be put back on, they'll be added to the bottom of the list.

Watch Smith discuss his condition below.

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