Cannabis abuse and dependence in kidney transplant candidates

Amy L. Stark, La Tonya J. Hickson, Beth R. Larrabee, Nuria J. Thusius, Victor M. Karpyak, Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, Terry D. Schneekloth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Cannabis is the most commonly used non-alcohol intoxicant in the general population. There are no consistent guidelines on the implications of cannabis abuse and dependence (CAD) in kidney transplant candidates. The aims of this study were to characterize kidney transplant candidates with comorbid CAD and examine the implications of CAD on transplant candidacy. Method: This was a retrospective cohort study of kidney transplant candidates meeting diagnostic criteria for CAD at a tertiary center from 2012 to 2016. Candidates were reviewed for psychiatric and substance use disorders (SUDs), family history, and medical variables. The cohort was divided by severity of CAD and transplant listing status for comparisons. Statistical analysis included Kruskal-Wallis tests for continuous variables and Fisher's Exact Test for categorical variables. Results: Sixty-one of 2067 (3%) kidney transplant candidates met criteria for CAD, and 13/61 (21%) underwent transplantation. Of 61, 58% smoked cannabis daily, 47% had alcohol dependence history, 31% had other illicit drug dependencies, 38% were smokers, 60% had a SUD family history, and 42% and 27% had depressive and anxiety disorders, respectively. Severity of CAD was inversely associated with transplant listing; those with cannabis abuse were more often listed than those with dependence (67% vs 33%, p = .02) by study end. Three case presentations illustrate cannabis-related issues. Conclusion: In this cohort, kidney transplant candidates with comorbid CAD have high prevalence of other substance use disorders, psychiatric comorbidities, and strong family histories of addictions that resemble other SUD populations. These findings have implications for pre-transplant screening and treatment and post-transplant monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-73
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Cannabis
  • Kidney transplantation
  • Marijuana
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Cannabis abuse and dependence in kidney transplant candidates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this