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Doctors Asked Not to Test Patients for Marijuana When Prescribing Painkillers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated their guidelines for doctors who prescribe painkillers and other prescription opioids. The new guidelines were issued in response to a full-blown epidemic when it comes to painkiller addiction and abuse.

The new guidelines focus on combating prescription drug abuse and prescription fraud and were prompted by a perception that physicians, and others in the healthcare community, have taken a careless approach when it comes to the prescription of painkillers and other opioids.

Some physicians use urine testing to determine whether a patient should be disqualified from pain treatment. Doctors are not actually required under federal law to give drug tests to patients who initially seek painkiller prescriptions, but the reality is that many doctors end up holding patients who want pain management to a higher standard on subsequent visits.

The belief is that a patient who is hooked on drugs will have certain illicit substances in their system, making it more likely that they are seeking prescription medication to feed their drug addiction. One of the illicit substances that show up on drug tests administered by clinicians is medical marijuana. When a drug test comes back positive for marijuana, the patient is typically not allowed to continue with their pain treatment plan.

The CDC said that doctors should be careful not to dismiss patients from pain treatment plans based on a positive test for marijuana “because this could constitute patient abandonment and could have adverse consequences for patient safety.” For example, a patient in desperate need of prescription pain medication may subsequently look to obtain the necessary painkillers from other sources, essentially depriving doctors of the opportunity to properly monitor and treat the problem. These patients may also seek out other types of drugs, such as heroin.

The CDC statement also indicates that disqualifying patients from treatment for chronic pain simply because they have marijuana in their bloodstreams can lead to “stigmatization.” Moreover, said the CDC, this can have serious health consequences on patients who legitimately need pain medication.

For further information, read the article, “CDC Tells Doctors to Stop Testing Patients for Marijuana.”


If you or a loved one has been charged with prescription fraud, marijuana possession, heroin possession or any other drug crime in New Jersey, you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney. The experienced South Jersey criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you fight your drug offense charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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