Clinical Investigation| Volume 365, ISSUE 2, P115-120, February 2023

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Marijuana use and post-transplant complications and non-compliance in liver transplant patients

Published:October 03, 2022DOI:



      Liver transplant (LT) is a lifesaving treatment for patients with end stage liver disease. Historically, institutions across the United States have deemed active marijuana use as an exclusion criterion for listing. This study aims to investigate LT outcomes in patients with history of marijuana use prior to LT.


      We performed a retrospective review of 111 patients who tested positive for marijuana on urine drug screen during initial LT evaluation between February 2016 and January 2021. 100 non-marijuana users who underwent LT were cross matched for control. Patient demographics, substance use history, and transplant decisions were recorded. Post-LT variables were also collected up to 1 year post surgery including postoperative infections, issues with non-compliance, and continued substance use. Chi-square analysis was used to assess the association between pre-transplant marijuana use and post-transplant complications. Logistics regression was implemented to measure associations amongst the entire cohort.


      From 111 marijuana users, 32 (29%) received a transplant. There was no statistical difference in post-LT outcomes between marijuana and non-marijuana users, including incidence of cardiac, respiratory, renal, psychiatric, or neurological complications, as well as readmission rates post-surgery. There were no statistically significant associations between marijuana use with post-transplant bacterial or fungal infections, medication non-compliance, or continued substance use (all p>0.05). Marijuana use was associated with pre-LT tobacco use (p = 0.020).


      Our data indicates that marijuana is not associated with increased risk of postoperative noncompliance, other organ complications, infections, or death. As a single factor, marijuana may not need to be a contraindication for LT.


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