Using certain medications may temporarily disqualify you from donating blood. They include:
Smoking cannabis doesn’t disqualify you from giving blood. However, the clinic is likely to turn you away if you show up to your appointment visibly high.
The blood that’s used for this important procedure is collected through the process of blood donation. Donating blood is a great way to help someone who’s in need of a blood transfusion.
- 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)
Smoking cigarettes in and of itself doesn’t disqualify you from donating blood.
In a statement to Healthline, the American Red Cross said: “While the Red Cross does not encourage the use of controlled substances, marijuana, cigarettes or alcohol use does not necessarily disqualify a person from giving blood. Potential donors cannot give while under the influence of licit or illicit drugs or alcohol. Legal or illegal use of marijuana is not otherwise a cause of deferral.”
Even though smoking doesn’t disqualify you from donating blood, it can eventually lead to conditions that can be disqualifiers for blood donation. These can include:
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), nearly 5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year.
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.
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.
So, if you have smoked or ingested non-synthetic marijuana, are otherwise in good health and meet the basic donation guidelines, you can donate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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Less than 50% of Americans are eligible to donate blood at any given time, so it’s helpful to know your reasons for ineligibility.