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Bud for Blood: The cannabis industry gives back

Bud for Blood: The cannabis industry gives back

Did you know there’s a blood shortage in the United States right now? 

In January 2022, the Red Cross announced it was facing the worst blood shortage in over a decade. The shortage is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and affects medical patients across the nation. Blood is critical for patients, and a shortage means medical professionals have to make tough calls about who receives a donation or transfusion – and who goes without. 

Blood donations have declined substantially since the start of the pandemic, causing a ripple effect in hospitals and medical facilities in every state. Unlike other medical substances, blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled, so consistent donations from kind-hearted volunteers is the only way to ensure a consistent supply makes its way to people who need it the most. 1

Bud for Blood steps up 

Bud for Blood is an educational initiative championing blood donations from cannabis users and members of the cannabis industry. Bud for Blood was founded by Kristen Yoder, a cannabis industry veteran and founder of the clothing line Cynical Stoner. 

The desire to launch Bud for Blood came from “a need to be the change I so desperately want to see, and a deep faith in my fellow stoners” Kristen said. 

Consuming cannabis isn’t a disqualifier to donating blood, and Bud for Blood wants to spread the word to help increase donations. Volunteers who step up to donate blood or plasma can receive a free Bud for Blood t-shirt by sending in a photo of their appointment confirmation and a selfie (or any photo) taken during the donation appointment. 

Sponsored by a range of companies throughout the cannabis industry, Bud for Blood is tapping into the empathy of cannabis users by raising the call to step up for people in need. 

Cannabis and empathy

Cannabis users have empathy to spare. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines empathy as “the ability to imagine and understand the thoughts, perspective, and emotions of another person.” It was once thought that empathy was an in-born trait, but recent studies have shown that not only can empathy be taught, cannabis use may affect or even increase empathy

  • THC can decrease amygdala reactivity to threats, and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a key modulator in mood-related neural processes. 2 3
  • The ECS is also deeply intertwined with our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, is involved in fear and memory regulations, as well as social behavior. 

The proper dose of, and setting for cannabis use can decrease stress and anxiety and heighten feelings of connection with others. Since empathy is dependent on a feeling of connection with others, the right dose of the right cannabis product can have a profound impact on how empathetic you feel towards others. While the right combination of these factors to facilitate empathy is deeply personal, being in a calm environment with people you trust and a strain you’ve tested before is important. 

Dr. Jan Roberts, psychotherapist and CEO of The Cannabinoid Institute, a medical cannabis education company, explains it like this. “If the right cannabinoids are used at the right dosage, the limbic system is shut down and helps to have more of that connectivity to yourself and others. Using cannabis can get you to go beyond your ego and defense mechanisms and communicate connection, reciprocity and growth but it must be based on an individual’s mind, body and, frankly, spirit.” 

Cannabis and donating blood

Did you know consuming cannabis isn’t a disqualifier for donating blood or plasma? You cannot be high when you give blood, but you can consume cannabis before or after your donation, even if you’re donating plasma. For smokers and vapers this means about four hours of abstaining before donations, and with edible you should ideally wait at least 8-12 hours before donating, as this is how long the impairing effects of THC can typically last.

Donating blood is a quick and relatively easy way to make a positive impact in your community and step up for neighbors in need. All kinds of patients need blood, from car accident victims and people who need surgery to patients with cancer and blood diseases. This blood shortage won’t be solved overnight, but it can be solved if we act together, united by bud to achieve a common goal of blood donations.

Take action to end the blood shortage  

Whether you are or aren’t eligible to donate blood, there are still action steps you can take to help end the devastating blood shortage. 

Eligible individuals: 

  • Donate blood. Many people are eligible to donate whole blood, and the process is quick and easy. Visit the Red Cross website to find an active blood drive near you.  
  • Donate platelets or plasma. Donating platelets or plasma is a slightly different process than donating whole blood, wherein just a portion of the blood in removed via a machine and the rest is returned back into you. These processes can take a bit longer, but they can also save dozens of lives with just one donation – so it may be worth considering if you’ve got the time.

Ineligible individuals: 

  • Volunteer at a blood drive. The pandemic has also affected volunteer numbers at blood drives. There are many roles available, so see how you can step up. 
  • Donate money. If you can’t donate blood, you can always make financial contributions to the Red Cross 
  • Share this information. Many cannabis consumers may not know that cannabis is not a disqualifier for donating blood or plasma, so help get the word out. Support the Bud for Blood mission and help stoners end the blood shortage and help to normalize cannabis in the process. 

Companies and corporations: 

Set up a blood drive. The pandemic hasn’t just affected donors, it’s also affected the number of blood drives being hosted. Any company can set up a blood drive. Learn more on the Red Cross website.


  1. Miskeen E, Omer Yahia AI, Eljack TB, Karar HK. The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Blood Transfusion Services: A Perspective from Health Professionals and Donors. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2021;14:3063-3071. Published 2021 Nov 2. doi:10.2147/JMDH.S337039
  2. Wesley, M. J., Lile, J. A., Hanlon, C. A., & Porrino, L. J. (2016). Abnormal medial prefrontal cortex activity in heavy cannabis users during conscious emotional evaluation. Psychopharmacology, 233(6), 1035–1044. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-015-4180-y
  3. han KL, Angstadt M, Golden J, Onyewuenyi I, Popovska A, de Wit H. Cannabinoid modulation of amygdala reactivity to social signals of threat in humans. J Neurosci. 2008;28(10):2313-2319. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5603-07.2008
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