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Is it legal for a doctor to stop writing you prescriptions for pain medication if you use marijuana?

Vicky Eckenrode

Doctors can use drug screens when seeing patients who take pain-relieving opiods such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

In February, the American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine published clinical guidelines for doctors about opioid therapy for chronic, non-cancer pain.

While the report’s authors stated that opiod medicines can be safe and effective for patients with chronic non-cancer pain, they stated those patients should be carefully selected and monitored. Risk of substance abuse is one of the factors that should be looked at, according to the guidelines.

“In addition, clinicians should routinely carry out a thorough clinical assessment for presence of aberrant drug-related behaviors, substance use and psychological issues,” stated the study, which was published in the February issue of The Journal of Pain. “Periodic urine drug screening can be a helpful tool to monitor patients on (chronic opiod therapy).”

Advocates of allowing patients to smoke marijuana for treating symptoms such as pain and nausea have complained about doctors stopping pain medications for medical marijuana users.

Dale Gieringer, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in California – where medical marijuana is legal – wrote a recent blog post criticizing the practice and stating there has been an increase in complaints from medical marijuana users having difficulties finding pain clinics willing to take them.

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