The basic eligibility guidelines state that you must be at least 16 years old with parental consent in some states or 17 years old without consent in most states, weigh at least 110 pounds and have not donated in the past 56 days.
Here is what the American Red Cross said when we asked about cannabis use and donating blood: Yes, you can donate if you’ve smoked marijuana. However, you cannot donate if you’ve smoked or ingested a synthetic form of the drug.
In July 2019, the American Red Cross reported an emergency need: blood donations were going out to hospitals faster than they were coming into donation centers.
So, if you have smoked or ingested non-synthetic marijuana, are otherwise in good health and meet the basic donation guidelines, you can donate.
While blood donation centers are no longer in a state of emergency, there is still a critical need. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, yet only 10% of the eligible population — which is less than 38% of Americans — donates.
There is an FDA-approved medication called Marinol that has man-made THC in it. If you are taking Marinol for a medical condition, such as nausea from chemotherapy or loss of appetite from HIV infection, you would not be eligible for blood donation. If you have taken Marinol and do not have a pre-existing medical condition, you would not be deferred, as it is FDA-approved.
Synthetic marijuana — also known as K2 or Spice — is a human-made chemical with a similar make-up to the marijuana plant. It is classified under the group called new psychoactive substances (NPS) and is considered to be an unregulated, mind-altering substance.
There is one final stipulation to note. While it is OK to have medical or recreational cannabis in your system, if you are under the influence of the drug at the time of donation, you will be deferred. That rule goes for licit and illicit drugs and alcohol.
Want to make sure you get a safe form of marijuana when purchasing it? Here are 25 things you should know before buying it.
Less than 50% of Americans are eligible to donate blood at any given time, so it’s helpful to know your reasons for ineligibility.
Using certain medications may temporarily disqualify you from donating blood. They include:
In the United States, possible disqualifiers can include, but aren’t limited to:
If you smoke and you want to donate blood, plan to refrain from smoking on the day of your appointment — both before your appointment and for three hours afterward.
Having previously received a blood transfusion in France or the United Kingdom, both areas where vCJD is found, would also make you ineligible to donate.
There are many reasons why someone could need a blood transfusion, such as:
- acitretin, a drug used for severe psoriasis
- blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and heparin
- dutasteride (Avodart, Jalyn), which is used for enlarged prostate
- isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis), an acne drug
- teriflunomide (Aubagio), which is used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS)
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), nearly 5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year.
It’s important to discuss these things when you arrive at the clinic to determine if any of them apply to you.
In rare cases, having used certain medications will permanently disqualify you from donating blood. This includes human pituitary-derived growth hormone and the psoriasis drug etretinate (Tegison), both of which are now banned in the United States.
There are certain stimulants and drugs that can disqualify you from giving blood, but can you donate blood if you smoke? In many cases, the answer is yes. Learn more about the factors that determine whether you’re eligible to give blood. We'll tell you what you can do and how you can be a donor, even if you do smoke.