CDC: Doctors, Stop Testing for Marijuana

Christine Rousselle
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Posted: Mar 24, 2016 2:55 PM
CDC: Doctors, Stop Testing for Marijuana

The CDC has ordered doctors to stop testing their patients for marijuana use before giving a patient a prescription for painkillers. The new recommendation was revealed last week when the CDC issued new guidelines for prescribing opioid painkillers.

The new guidelines are in place to prevent the disqualification of people who would otherwise benefit from opioid painkillers but tested positive to THC. The fear is that those people, who are still in pain, would seek opioid painkillers from illegal sources that are far less safe and monitored.

“Clinicians should not test for substances for which results would not affect patient management or for which implications for patient management are unclear,” reads the statement. “For example, experts noted that there might be uncertainty about the clinical implications of a positive urine drug test for tetrahydrocannabinols (THC).”

Although passing a drug test is not usually a prerequisite for an initial prescription to painkillers, patients who end up passing through the corridor from the family doctor to a pain management clinic are often held to a higher standard in order to continue receiving these medications. Typically, these patients are required to test free of any illegal substances, including medical marijuana, before being allowed to participate and/or continue in a pain treatment plan.

Additionally, there have been many issues with false positive screens for THC when in fact the patient had not consumed the drug. Approximately one out of five "positive" screenings for THC were actually false-positives.

Further, there is considerable evidence that there's a correlation between a state relaxing laws on marijuana and a lower rate of opioid overdose deaths. Marijuana is an effective painkiller for many people, and it's physically impossible to die from an overdose.

Deaths from opioids (both legally prescribed and illegally acquired) have skyrocketed in recent years, and something has to be done to end this disturbing trend.