AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine man has been taken off a kidney transplant wait list for using medical marijuana.
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit Maine hospitals from doing that, even though one local hospital said there are medical reasons to disqualify patients who use marijuana.
Garry Godfrey has Alport syndrome, a hereditary disease that causes renal failure at a young age. He said it also causes debilitating pain, nausea and anxiety.
“I’ve tried so many pharmaceuticals and none of them worked, but the medical cannabis does,” Godfrey said. “It helps me function. It helps me take care of my kids.”
Godfrey said he needs a new kidney and was put on Maine Medical Center’s transplant list in 2003. In 2010, Maine Med adopted a new policy.
“I was informed that they changed their policy, that you can no longer use marijuana,” Godfrey said. “I was taken off the list.”
Maine Medical Center spokesman Clay Holtzman said he could not comment on this specific case but issued a statement Tuesday.
“Our drug use policy currently prohibits transplant candidates from using marijuana, due to the risk of an invasive fungal infection known as aspergillosis.”
The Maine Med statement also said this fungal infection can be life-threatening for transplant patients whose immune system is compromised.
Maine Med said that once off marijuana, patients can requalify and get put back on the hospital’s wait list.
But Godfrey said marijuana is the only drug that allows him to function.
“You should not be discriminated against for the type of medicine you choose,” Godfrey said.
Garry Godfrey testified in support of a bill that would prohibit hospitals from rejecting transplant patients solely for using medical marijuana. That bill is in committee.