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Teen DENIED life-saving double lung transplant after testing positive for marijuana

Just next door in the state of Colorado, its use is commonly recommended to patients to help relieve pain and provide relief from disease. But in Utah, cannabis consumption is apparently not only frowned upon, but it could end up actually barring a patient’s access to life-saving medical treatments.

This is exactly what happened to 19-year-old Riley Hancey, who was hospitalized just after Thanksgiving this past year, after coming down with a severe form of pneumonia that caused one of his lungs to collapse. Reports indicate that Hancey’s condition required a double lung transplant, which he would have received had traces of cannabis not turned up in his system.

Hancey’s lung collapse was so severe that, according to his YouCaring fundraiser page, he “lost all gas exchange function of his lungs due to scarring, as a result of the infection.” He needed priority access to new lungs, in other words, but was callously denied such by the medical team at the University of Utah Hospital, which takes an aggressively discriminatory stance against patients who choose to use nature for purposes of relaxation and enjoyment.

Though the hospital would not comment specifically on Hancey’s case with regards to its refusal to perform the surgery, it did tell the media that it follows strict guidelines as to deciding how it will distribute its services to patients. Part of these guidelines includes lumping cannabis use in with tobacco and alcohol as vices “that must be addressed prior to receiving surgery.

“The reason for these guidelines is that we have a responsibility to ensure our patients have the best possible outcomes and that we are good stewards of the rare resource of the donated organ,” the hospital said in a statement to CBS News. “Generally speaking, we do not transplant organs in patients with active alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug dependencies or abuse until these issues are addressed, as these substances are contraindicated for a transplant.”

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University of Pennsylvania agrees to treat young man when University of Utah refuses

Such a policy sounds fair and reasonable until one comes to the realization that, at least with regards to cannabis, it isn’t at all necessary. After looking around for a more open and less discriminatory hospital to perform the procedure, Hancey’s family found a compassionate ally at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

According to reports, Hancey was able to receive a new set of lungs on March 29, with no injury to himself or to his surgeons resulting from his cannabis use. As usual, the silly Reefer Madness rhetoric of the likes of the University of Utah was proven false, and once again reveals the extent to which prohibitionists are willing to go to maintain the status quo – even if it means potentially leaving someone to die.

“His transplant surgery went well and the doctor is optimistic,” Hancey’s family wrote on the young man’s fundraising page, completely debunking the nonsense excuses given by the University of Utah. “There is still a very long road ahead, so please keep Riley and company in your thoughts.”

You can keep up with Hancey’s ongoing progress and recovery by visiting his YouCaring support page.

As many cannabis users are, Hancey is described as having been a “healthy teen” prior to his pneumatic condition, and one who regularly engaged in physical activity, travel, and other pleasures. He was hardly the “junkie” that the University of Utah probably assumed he was, once again showing the lunacy of the war on cannabis, not to mention the fact that it’s now been shown once again that the most dangerous thing about cannabis isn’t cannabis itself, but rather being caught with it on your person – or in this case, inside your body.

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