One of the less publicized provisions in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s opioid prescribing guidelines is a recommendation that doctors stop urine drug testing of patients for tetrahyrdocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that causes the “high” for some marijuana users. The guidelines also discourage doctors from dropping patients if marijuana is detected.
Some doctors use a positive result for THC as an excuse to discharge patients from their practices, even in states where medical marijuana is legal.
While the CDC guidelines encourage physicians to conduct urine drug tests before starting opioid therapy and at least annually afterwards, they draw the line at THC.
“Clinicians should not test for substances for which results would not affect patient management or for which implications for patient management are unclear. For example, experts noted that there might be uncertainty about the clinical implications of a positive urine drug test for tetrahyrdocannabinol (THC).” the guidelines state.
“Clinicians should not dismiss patients from care based on a urine drug test result because this could constitute patient abandonment and could have adverse consequences for patient safety, potentially including the patient obtaining opioids from alternative sources and the clinician missing opportunities to facilitate treatment for substance use disorder.”