CDC Says Don’t Test Opioid Users for Marijuana

SFGATE.com reports the CDC is discouraging testing chronic pain sufferers for THC.  The Hearst-owned website, which is a sister-site of the San Francisco Chronicle, published the following this week.

Faced with an FDA-manufactured opioid painkiller overdose epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control has revised its guidelines to avoid something possibly making the epidemic worse — the routine screening of opioid users for marijuana use.

Today, the CDC instructed doctors to stop routine testing of pain patients for marijuana use. The costly tests have dubious health benefits, high potential legal ramifications for the patient, and could actually increase overdose deaths.

Of major importance is that medical marijuana availability seems to cut painkiller overdose deaths by 25%, researchers have found, because cannabis allows pain patients to take less opioids or stop taking them altogether.

Cannabis — an alternative to pills for some patients — also has no lethal overdose level, while painkiller overdoses kill about 19 Americans — per day.

California NORML reported this week that new CDC guidelines tell pain doctors to stop testing their patients for THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis. Marijuana testing of pain patients is routine, and often used to force patients to either quit marijuana, or face the loss of opioid painkillers to which patients are addicted.

The CDC now states that THC might have no bearing on pain management.

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

Medical marijuana activists believe the U.S. needs to immediately legalize medical cannabis to save lives from the opioid epidemic.

“We applaud the CDC’s reasoned approach to the use of urine testing and its drawbacks when used on pain patients,” said Ellen Komp, Deputy Director of California NORML. “Considering that opioid overdose deaths are significantly lower in states with medical marijuana programs, we are sorry the agency apparently didn’t read the letter Elizabeth Warren recently sent to its chief calling for marijuana legalization as a means of dealing with the problem of opiate overdose.”

Read the rest of the article on SFGATE.com.

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