Can you Donate Plasma If You Smoke Weed? [2024 Guide to Cannabis Use and Donating Blood]

can i donate plasma and smoke weed
By Nick Congleton Updated March 8th

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

According to the American Red Cross, someone in the U.S. needs blood or platelets every 2 seconds. On average, 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed on a daily basis nationwide, and one car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood.

Sadly, only 3% of Americans actually donate blood.

You may want to join this worthy cause and help save lives, but wonder if you can donate plasma if you are a weed smoker. Let’s explore all of the facts.

What is Blood Plasma?

Blood plasma is the actual liquid portion of the blood. The rest of our blood is made up of red blood cells and blood platelets. 

Plasma, aside from being the liquid that transports red blood cells and platelets around the body, is also loaded with the proteins necessary for blood to clot and for the immune system to work. Plasma transports electrolytes like potassium and sodium to the muscles and maintains pH balance for healthy cell function. 

Hospitals need blood and plasma donations for patients suffering from burns, blood loss, and anemia. Unfortunately, blood donations are critically low in the United States and many countries around the world. Donations are critical for helping patients with these life-threatening injuries.

Blood plasma’s functions in the body include:

  • Transporting red blood cells and platelets around the body,
  • Bringing electrolytes like potassium and sodium to the muscles,
  • Carrying proteins needed for blood clotting,
  • Housing a large portion of the immune system and the proteins it needs.

What Are the Requirements for Donating Plasma?

can you donate plasma and smoke weed

The qualifications for donating plasma are fairly basic, but cannabis users – even those with a medical marijuana card – worry about whether or not they’re allowed to donate. 

Before getting to the issue of cannabis, it’s best to explore the universal guidelines for donors.

In most states, the age to donate is 17 years-old, but it’s 16 in a few. In those states, the Red Cross requires parental consent. The person donating must weigh at least 110 pounds. Finally, in order to donate, you need to be in good health. According to the Red Cross, this means that you need to be feeling well and are able to perform regular activities. The Red Cross doesn’t automatically disqualify patients with chronic conditions, like diabetes, as long as they’re undergoing treatment and the condition is under control. 

There are more specific types of blood donation, as defined by the Red Cross. There’s also Power Red Donation, Platelet Donation, and AB Elite Plasma Donation. Each of these has specific requirements.

Power Red Donation is a way for donors to give two units of red blood cells at once. Donors need to have type O, type A negative, or type B negative blood. They must be feeling well and of generally good health, just like standard donations. Male donors must be at least 17 years-old, at least 5’ 1” tall, and weigh a minimum of 130 pounds. Female donors must be at least 19 years-old, at least 5’ 5” tall, and weigh a minimum of 150 pounds.

Platelet donation focuses just on the blood platelets, which allow blood to clot. Donors can be a minimum of 16 or 17 years-old, depending on the state. Donors cannot take aspirin for at least two days prior to making their donation. Women who were recently pregnant are also not permitted to donate platelets because their increased antibodies may lead the recipient to reject the platelets. Aside from that, the requirements to donate are the same as standard Whole Blood Donations.

Finally, AB Elite Plasma Donation is reserved for people with type AB blood, because it’s the only universally accepted donor type. Aside from having type AB blood, the requirements are the same as standard Whole Blood Donations.

Disqualification From Donating Blood Plasma

There are a number of disqualifying factors for donating blood, but none of them involve cannabis

Most of the disqualifying factors that will prevent someone from donating plasma – aside from failing to meet the requirements listed in the previous section – involve bloodborne illnesses, like hepatitis B and C or HIV. The Red Cross has a complete list of potentially disqualifying conditions and circumstances. Most involve illness, but some medications may be disqualifying factors. There are also reasons for disqualification that many potential donors wouldn’t typically think of, like having recently gotten a tattoo. In nearly every instance, the goal of these limitations is to prevent the transmission of disease. 

With all of that said, if you arrive to donate plasma intoxicated, whether that be with cannabis, alcohol, or something else, you will be turned away.

Donating Plasma and Synthetic Weed

Synthetic marijuana – often called K2 or spice – is a mixture of artificial cannabinoids created in a lab, then packaged in liquid form for vapes or sprayed onto some form of dried plant material for smoking. While these synthetic cannabinoids are made to be chemically similar to natural cannabinoids like THC and CBD, the similarity ends there. These aren’t just bad cannabis. They’re dangerous chemicals made in a lab.

Due to their chemical similarity, synthetic cannabinoids bind to the same receptors in the brain as THC, but they can have radically different effects. These cannabinoids can cause much harsher reactions, including delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, and even seizures. To make matters worse, there’s evidence that synthetic cannabinoids may be addictive, with some users reporting withdrawal symptoms.

While the Red Cross doesn’t specifically name synthetic marijuana in its disqualifying conditions, and the FDA doesn’t explicitly ban it, most experts agree that synthetic marijuana users should not donate blood.

Do Donation Centers Do Drug Testing?

Donation centers do not do drug testing. Instead, they ask donors questions about several lifestyle factors, including drug use, that may impact their ability to donate. While it’s possible for donors to misreport certain information, the facilities do test the collected donation for infectious diseases and maintain lists of unsuitable donors. 

The Red Cross does not prohibit cannabis users from donating plasma. Additionally, they do not test donated blood for THC. CBD users shouldn’t be concerned either, since even if donation centers did test, pure CBD products won’t show up on a drug test.

Plasma Donation Tips for Weed Smokers

Before you go to donate, you should take a short break from cannabis use. It doesn’t need to be a full detox: a day or two is usually good. The goal is to get any active THC out of your system. The donation center may or may not ask you when the last time you used cannabis was, so this is more of a courtesy for the person that’s going to receive your donation.

Beyond that, the best practices for donating are the same for cannabis consumers as they are for everyone else. 

  • Make sure you eat well before going to donate. Iron-rich foods are best. Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and kale are loaded with iron. So are sweet potatoes and beans. Vitamin C will help your body absorb iron. Citrus fruits, watermelon, berries, and even tomatoes are good sources of vitamin C.
  • Be sure that you’re well hydrated before you donate, and continue to hydrate afterward. 


Cannabis users absolutely can donate plasma. The Red Cross is in serious need of more donations, so if you’re inclined to help out, find your local donation center. 

A statement issued to Healthline best summarizes the situation of cannabis users donating plasma. “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.” 

Keep that in mind before donating plasma, but don’t let it discourage you from doing your part.
And while the Red Cross won’t test you or your blood for THC, it’s always best to adhere to your state’s laws and regulations around cannabis consumption. If you’re interested in legal cannabis use, finding a medical marijuana doctor in your area is simple.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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