03.23.2016
policy

CDC: Testing THC-Positive No Longer Barrier to Opioid Use

No one should be denied necessary medications, but who are these clowns?

Good news! Testing positive for THC will no longer disqualify you from the pool of Americans eligible for the great opioid epidemic of 2016!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a component of the federal Department of Health and Human Services that bills itself as “the nation’s health protection agency,” released its first-ever set of national guidelines for doctors prescribing opiods last week.

What’s your hurry with those guidelines, CDC?

Sure, the nation is soul deep in an epidemic of narcotics addiction—with heroin at the apex—that traces back to the over-prescription of highly addictive pain medications, and sure the New York Times has tracked spiking drug overdose deaths back to 2003, but, really, CDC: Can you be certain you aren’t jumping the gun with these guidelines?

In fact, CDC, can you be certain about anything?

Deep within the agency’s recommended usages and precautions for 175 branded and generic immediate-release opioid painkillers and long-acting opioid drugs like OxyContin is an order (or is it only a suggestion?) that physicians should stop testing patients for THC before prescribing lab dope.

Some medical practitioners, apparently, have been operating under a policy that pissing out streams of THC metabolites excludes a patient from receiving a jar of pharmaceutical-grade narcotics.

The CDC has a hunch that this exclusion is a health threat that the nation needs to be protected against.

From the CDC statement as reported by High Times:

“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 tetrahydrocannabinols (THC).”

Okay, so what kind of accountability-evading language is “there might be uncertainty”? That “might be uncertainty” phrasing—in and of itself—is a clear definition, an object lesson, a craven example of uncertainty. Why can’t our CDC have the courage of its convictions and unequivocally say: “There is uncertainty”?

Even taking that clear, definitive position—that uncertainty exists—doesn’t commit the CDC to take a side. The agency is still free to say, “No one knows!” That direct declaration of ignorance is much more bold and worthy of a leadership position than hedging with “maybe no one knows.”

Clearly, the CDC’s fey, mixed-message language derives from its delivering a mixed-motive guideline. It’s as if the government organization suspects that it is not truly the primary force in determining medical treatment protocols of the vast, prescription-drug-gobbling American public. It’s like the CDC has a sinking feeling that its influence is but a shadow of the pharmaceutical industry’s fearsome, dark profile.

So don’t even ask how the country’s wisest panel of medical lifeguards expects to cut down on opioid use by expanding the potential user pool. It’s a puzzler—like so many other unanswerable questions about health care in America.

If all these imponderables hurt your head, do not despair. You can go and get your prescription filled.

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