Pain Clinics Test Patients for Marijuana Use

By Dale Gieringer, Director, CA NORML
Like many medical marijuana users, Kristin Redeen needed additional prescription medications for her severe chronic pain. For seven years she had been treated at a private pain clinic in the Central Valley, where a doctor maintained her on Percocet, a semi-synthetic opioid. One day Kristin was unexpectedly asked to submit a urine sample.
“They already knew about my medical marijuana use,” says Kristin, who contacted California NORML. “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.”
When the test  came back, Kristin was informed that the clinic would no longer renew her prescription because she had tested positive for an illegal controlled substance. Her doctor at the clinic cited legal concerns, claiming –falsely– that DEA regulations forbid giving prescription narcotics to users of marijuana or other illegal drugs.
Kristin was cut off from her Percocet and began suffering seizures. She finally found a physician who was willing to prescribe her another opioid, Vicodin, but only at low doses insufficient to relieve her constant pain.
Kristin is one of a growing number of medical marijuana patients discriminated against by pain clinics. “I must have heard of 25 cases this year,” says Doug Hiatt, an attorney in Washington state. “It’s Jim Crow medicine.”
NORML has received a surge of complaints within the last six months.  Many medical marijuana users report that they can’t find a clinic willing to take them on.  Others, like Kristin, have been abandoned by clinics that suddenly adopted aggressive drug-screening policies.
Clinics say they are legally compelled to drug-test chronic pain patients so as to avoid liability for overdoses and diversion of prescription drugs, particularly opioids such as oxycontin –which have nothing to do with cannabis.
Chronic pain patients have good reason to object to being denied medical access to cannabis. Chronic pain is the leading indication for medical cannabis use, accounting for 90% of the patients in Oregon’s medical marijuana program.   More than 60 studies have shown cannabinoids to be effective in pain relief, according to a compilation by the International Association of Cannabis Medicine which includes four controlled studies of smoked marijuana by California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.
Studies indicate that cannabis interacts synergistically with opioids in such a way as to improve pain relief [1, 2].    California medical cannabis specialists consistently report that patients are able to reduce use of opioids –typically by 50%– when they add cannabis to their regimen.  Cannabis can therefore be seen as a gateway drug leading away from opioid addiction.  Nevertheless, patients are being pressured to stop using cannabis if they want to get prescription opioids.
To their dismay, patients have to pay for the drug tests at their own (or their insurers’) expense.   Carol, a chronic pain patient who had been treated for seven years by the same clinic without any testing, reports that she was billed $325 for a urine screen. The balance of the bill, which totaled $1,601, was paid by her insurer.
Carol says her doctor told her that “the DEA requires him to drug test all his clients, that he has no choice, it is the law.”
In fact, there is no law requiring clinics to drug screen patients for marijuana.   “It’s BS,” says Hiatt.  Not a single case is known in which pain doctors have been sued or prosecuted for allowing medical marijuana use along with opiates.
Prosecutors have argued that marijuana might be obtained on the illicit market in trade for  prescription drugs, though such a scenario seems implausible in medical cannabis states. “It’s unwarranted paranoia,” says Gregory Carter, MD, one of the few practicing pain experts who recommend marijuana in Washington.
Given that cannabis is notably less toxic and addictive than other prescription narcotics,  it seems highly ironic that pain clinics are discouraging its use.  The prejudice against marijuana has nothing to do with medical science, but rather with political and legal pressures to crack down on prescription drug use. Non-medical use of prescription drugs has recently emerged as the nation’s number-one drug problem du jour.
A new government report, ominously entitled the “National Prescription Drug Threat Assessment,” reported 8,500 deaths in 2005 from prescription pain relievers (mainly opioids), more than double the 2001 total. “Diversion and abuse of prescription drugs are a threat to our public health and safety – similar to the threat posed by illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine,” warned Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske.
The Pain Specialists’ Meeting
The 2009 American Pain Society Convention in San Diego included a panel on “Cannabinoids in Pain Management,” chaired by Dr. Mark Ware of McGill University. Dr. Andrea Hohmann, an expert on stress-level analgesia from the University of Georgia, presented evidence from rodent studies which showed that cannabinoids suppress nociceptive processing through both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and that endocannabinoids, including 2-AG and anandamide, help suppress pain.
Donald Abrams, MD, of the University of California at San Francisco, discussed his studies showing that inhaled marijuana significantly reduced neuropathic pain experienced by HIV patients.  Cannabinoids and opioids interact synergistically on separate but parallel pain receptors, Abrams said. He is conducting another study on combined use of cannabinoids and opioids, preliminary results of which appear promising.
Dr. Ware discussed studies involving the variety of cannabinoid medicines available in Canada, which include dronabinol, Sativex, Nabilone, and herbal THC. All of them have demonstrated efficacy in pain relief.  Cannabis is now recognized as a “third line” agent for neuropathic pain in Canada.  Noting that that its adverse effects are mild to moderate, Ware concluded that “cannabinoid analgesia is the real thing.”
During the question session, your correspondent asked why it was that, in light of evidence that cannabis was so useful in pain therapy, there appeared to be an upsurge in drug testing to prevent its use.  The panelists could offer no explanation.
We moved on to the exhibition hall, where drug testing companies were conspicuously displaying their wares.  Their exhibits showed how well their products could monitor usage of opiates.  The exhibitors seemed surprised when we told them that their products were being used against medical marijuana.
One of the more sophisticated exhibitors was Ameritox, which boasted panels for distinguishing a dozen different opioids plus numerous sedatives, tricyclic anti-depressants, barbiturates, and stimulants as well as “drugs of abuse,” among them marijuana.  Their saleswoman seemed surprised to hear that the Ameritox test was being used to screen out medical marijuana patients.  She said that clinics could easily order the screens without the marijuana if they wanted.
Another company boasted how their test could be administered at the doctor’s office, thereby allowing the doctor rather than the lab to collect the bill.
Finally, we spoke to a legal expert on pain medication, Ms. Jennifer Bolen, a former prosecutor turned defense attorney, who has a useful website devoted to the subject:
Ms Bolen pointed to three recent developments that have increased the pressure to conduct drug screening of pain patients.  First,  pain doctors have suffered a string of stinging legal judgments for over-prescribing opioids to patients who subsequently overdosed. One notable example involved Dr. Thomas Merrill of Florida,  whose life sentence was sustained by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals last year.
This February, a prestigious panel of the American Pain Society issued “New Guidelines for Prescribing Opioid Pain Drugs” which counsels that “diligent monitoring of patients is essential. “ The report specifically recommends periodic drug screens for chronic opioid patients at risk for aberrant drug behavior, though it doesn’t mention cannabis.
Lastly,  under  legislation that took effect this year, the FDA has new authority to require pharmaceutical companies to implement “risk management” programs to prevent consumer drug misuse.
Medical cannabis patients have no easy remedy to the current drug testing onslaught. In the absence of dire bodily harm, malpractice suits are of no avail.  In general, pain clinics have no legal obligation to treat anyone.  They commonly require patients to sign contracts allowing them to conduct drug screening at will.  Nonetheless, patients may have good grounds to complain to their state medical boards.  This is particularly the case where they have been abandoned by their doctors after being made dependent on prescription narcotics.
The ultimate recourse is to educate doctors, many of whom remain woefully ignorant of the literature on medical marijuana and chronic pain.  At the APS convention we encountered a distinguished pain specialist from San Diego, who joked about having enjoyed the marijuana muchies with his son,  but averred that he wouldn’t let his patients use it, on the grounds that it wouldn’t be useful, and anyway smoked medicine is bad for the lungs. Like most convention attendees, he had missed the panel on medical cannabis, where Dr. Abrams had discussed the use of smokeless vaporizers.
Still,  good physicians should be open to persuasion from patients. Cynthia, a severe chronic pain patient. had frequented the same clinic for 10 years when she was confronted with a surprise urine test.  In addition to prescription opiates, she had been using medical marijuana, though her recommendation was four years out of date.   The test cost her $100  and her insurer $500 more.
On finding her positive for marijuana, her doctor informed her that she would have to reduce her cannabinoid level to zero.  After a heart-to-heart  talk, in which she explained to him how she had been able to reduce her opiate use to minimal levels thanks to medical cannabis, her doctor relented. “I feel really lucky,’ says Cynthia,  “You have to feel out the doctor. We have a special relationship.  I don’t think he plans to do this with all his patients.”
[1] Lynch and Clark, “Cannabis reduces opioid dose in the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain,” Journal Pain Symptom Management, (2003) 25(6) 496-8.
[2[ Narang et al., 2008 Efficacy of dronabinol as an adjuvant treatment for chronic pain patients on opioid therapy, J Pain. Mar;9(3):254-64.

From O’Shaughnessy’s, Summer 2009
To order this 52-page, all-content, no-jive publication, send $5 to p.o. box 490, Alameda, CA 94501. O’S is available in bulk to physicians, collectives, cooperatives and reform groups for $1/copy for free distribution to patients and interested citizens.

0 thoughts

  1. hi,i was in a bad car accident 10 yrs. i got on methadone to control the pain then wanted off methadone so i got on suboxone to wean off of methadone.found out after got off suboxone that i was red flagged to receive pain meds.i thought i could deal with my back pain if i was not on methadone or suboxone but couldn’t.please someone help me with any info on how i can get back into pain management.

  2. Since it became legal the combination of medical marijuana for chronic pain in conjunction with opioid medication for acute nerve pain reception has proved highly successful in restoring limited, to fully functional physical movement. A couple of years ago The doctor started issuing a one or the other option in the state of Washington. Because your supposed to work with your doctor for optimum results The advise of the physician was taken. Very soon the required dosage for opiates increased substantially to alleviate the acute pain and residual limiting regional nerve pain, which was severe to the point of dysfunctional ability. Should it be legal for a physician to not prescribe opioid medication, (Hydrocodone, Oxycodone), just because an MD at a medically licensed clinic has prescribed medical cannabis? M.D. licenses are granted by the State therefore shouldn’t state law take precedence when a doctor prescribes opioid medications but is only aware, not actually prescribing medical cannabis. Since The prescribing Physician is not prescribing the cannabis, they are not violating Federal law. At the same time The other doctor at a clinic is not violating State law. If this is the case, shouldn’t not administering opioid therapy just because another physician has prescribed medical cannabis legally be illegal. Would this also be a conflict of the oath to try and ease suffering in patients due to medical conditions.
    John Purple

  3. I was unexpectedly tested by my doctor six monthes ago and was referred to a “pain clinic.” I doubt I will be accepted into their program as I have always been treated as a “prescription shopper” and now as a “junkie” all because I use a natural medicine to help with my muscle spasms and nausea and it is not legal in my state. How unfair can life be?


  5. I say it’s time to fight back and just shut these PM clinics down by NOT USING THEM! If no one goes because of the bullshit they put you through then they will have no patients and therefore no business and they will have no choice but to shut down! I know I know, easier said than done…BUT…it can be done! There are always more than one way to skin a cat! Do what you have to do to get through the day without giving in to these bastards…it’s the only way people! I’ve decided that if I have to I will suffer a little but by golly I’m NOT giving in to these bastards…that includes the government and the doctors who bend down and kiss the governments ass and agree to it (it (contracts))! I’ll do what I have to to get through the day one way or the other and they can all kiss my lily white ass! Suck it up people and grow a pair and FIGHT back or this is only going to get worse! It’s time for a revolt, don’t just sit by and do nothing…if we don’t do something we will lose all our freedoms and I for one will not stand by and let that happen…I will fight back!

  6. I am so glad someone told me about this page.I am 53,i have seizures due to my x husband shooting me in the head,i have had both breast removed becuase of cancer,i also have melanoma cancers that come up on me all the time,i have had 2 back surgerys.I called today to get my pain meds refilled.And was told that i had tested post. for MJ 2 times,one more time and they will not give me my meds anymore.I told them i only smoke it to not puke,and to help with the pain,i have been on Oxicodone 5mg,and morphine 100mg,valum,and soma for about 10 years.Now they tell me this.Id rahter just do the MJ.They tell me that the reason they test me is to make sure i am taking my meds and not selling them.They have had me on stronger,but i asked to be taken of.What can you do.Im afraid they will turn me in to SS,and then i will lose that.I cant stand the pain and i sleep maybe 3 hours a night without the MJ.With it i may sleep 5 hours.But it feels so good.I am not taking it for the buzz as they say.But it is not as bad on you as some of the meds they have me on now.So i sit here now out of my pain meds because i know how i will test,and they told me i would have to.I am in a wheel chair,and right now i am in the bed and cant even move without sever pain.An i have never tried any harder drugs as they say you will go to when you cant get that feeling from the MJ anymore.It just feels good to be able to come here and talk about it.thank you for listening,and God Bless you All.

  7. So they cut me off my meds,just like that.Now how do i get through the withdrawls?Not fair for them just to cut them out like that,maybe wing you of but this is a way to kill someone.And should be medical mal pratice.

  8. same sad story ;1985 herniated low back now 2012 3 x back surguries require narcotic meds for 27 years and still do 53 years old 2012 new law emergency passed pain mng. laws because of abusive nationwide narcotic useage nothing to do with me. yet i test positve for marijuana. imediatly i cant get my pain releif i despratly need. my back never changed the past 27 years never chang for the good just worse.i,ve smoked since adge 13. go figure …WHAT CAN BE DONE? LOONEY TOON thanks for hearing so many screwed over pain patients i,ve been cut open 3x and medical society gets away with this stuff

  9. Looking for current law in FL regarding liability. Chronic pain patient for 12yrs MJ w/small amount of opiates and xanax for chronic anxiety works. As of 2011 new doc [8months] threating to discharge if I test pos for thc and said “one or the other” well I am about at the “other” point but still need anxiety medication even if I try to go off all opiates. Doc is actually pro pot but afraid. Cannot find current law on doc liability for this issue. He is open to being presented with research. All my searches continue to bring me to this page or others linked to it. Thanks.

  10. I have been on pain meds for 8 years in addition to medical marijuana. Recently the doctor asked me for a drug test, which I gladly took as she already knew I smoked. She then calls me and says I have to choose one or the other.
    How is this fair? My pain has only gotten worse over the years. I plan on going to the ER tonight if the pain does not go away.

  11. My Husband is having a terrible time finding a doctor since ours lost his license for engaging in illegal prescription selling. Tell me that’s not a crock. Is there anyone by chance who could help me find a doctor in the Northern Michigan area, I really don’t even care as long as I can get there in a day, he just really needs a doctor. Thank you!

  12. The prescription drug abusers and the legislative reaction has made it more difficult for those who suffer with chronic pain and require prescribed pain medication and/or cannabis to improve their quality of life. It is outrageous that those in real need face denial of effective pain meds because of rampant prescription drug abuse.
    Don’t see Pain Management doctors. The DEA and the drug abusers have destroyed their efficacy and they add the to the rising costs of health insurance. Ask to work with your PCP on a pain management strategy/program. Make sure that you have a long term relationship with your PCP. If your PCP insists that you see a Pain Specialist, find a new PCP.
    I suffer from a major C7 neck herniation. I have occasional severe pain, anxiety and numbness/weakness down my left arm. These are classic symptoms and my MRI doesn’t lie. Nor do my neurological tests. I don’t take any illicit drugs and despise taking Vicodin. But it is, on occasion, a necessary evil. I used to smoke cannabis for anxiety, appetite and pain, but quit cold turkey, after 35 years. I had no withdrawal symptoms whatsoever and don’t miss using cannabis, as it became ineffective for me. Plus, I didn’t like the social stigma that comes with its use.
    When my neck condition progressed and worsened, I was forced to see a Pain Management Doctor for 3 useless steroidal cervical injections and was prescribed Neurontin and Tramadol. Both drugs worked poorly. The Tramadol would put me to sleep and cause severe constipation. I was forced to provide a urine sample for opiad screening, which was a total waste of money. If the god damned Pain Doctor had simply contacted my PCP of 17 years and asked him if he suspected drug abuse, the test would have been unnecessary, as my PCP knows me quite well. When I need Vicodin, I rely upon my PCP for the prescription and he trusts that I am not an abuser. This is critical for my proper pain management care. I often take only half a tablet or use a low 8mg dose of codeine/aspirin. Lidocaine pain patches also provide minor relief when the pain is mild to moderate. It really pisses me off that I had to endure working with a Pain doctor, who’s office is extraordinarily busy and rude. They don’t call you back. Worse, my pain doctor was three hours late for each of my epidurals and the person who was willing to drive me to and from the clinic had to wait, as well. There was never an apology from the doctor. I discovered the alternative pain management options from friends/colleagues who also suffer from pain issues and discuss these options with my PCP only!
    I am now dealing with Anthem Blue Cross, who have rejected my Spine Surgeons request to perform an artificial disk replacement. The insurer claims that this procedure is investigational/experimental.
    America has the best healthcare in the world. Bull sh.t.

  13. Just more proof that a Doctors think they are god. What Drs in the VA don’t realize is they work for the Vet not the federal gov’t., the gov’t signs the checks. Why do new PCPs think that the first thing to do is change the meds you have been stablized on for years? I have seen more than one vet go to what we call the “Flight Deck”> Mental health floor because a Dr thought he knew more than the last one you have seen for a decade. Most of Drs have never had a hang nail let alone a severe injury such as being shot, stabbed, blown up, or dropped on a tree after falling 1300 feet. Really, has anyone seen a truly busted up DR?
    The best care I have ever recieved was from a Dr with his arm in a sling. He had a broken clavical, one of the many things I am being treatd for. I said “It hurts doesn’t it?”. His reply “Damn right it does.”I was given pain meds T3s (hard stuff. jk)But there was no argument.
    I have never seen my new PCP, not once. His nurse stated “Dr Sarkissian said you have seen him.” I don’t know who the “him”, but proper pronoun followed my a pronoun in the same sentence refers to the proper pronoun. I called him a liar. What can he do shoot me again? No he stops my meds. I was asking for Ritialn that my old PCP, that I saw for 15 years, prescribed for me months ago. This new hack never informed me I was not getting the medication until I called the VA. asking them where it was.I went through a mild withdrawl because of this.
    I had to make an appt for mental health to get the medication. More waiting. This new PCP has not filled one request for meds without a battle. Some of these I have taken for over 15 years. He is not a Pain management Dr. yet he is enforcing a pain clinic contract that was void 10 years ago. By the way he was a prison Dr in California. After that worked in a strip mall there. He has practiced 13 years and was a ‘walk in’ to medical school in some Eastern Eurpean country. I believe this taints his veiw of his patients. If he don’t like being called a liar then he should have called and not his nurse that couuld barely speak coherent English. Maybe his English even worse.
    I was in a pain clinic and I was released to my old PCP and he was tasked to handle my Pain Management and there was never a problem as long as I had my blood test. Not once have I asked for an increase due to the stigma of asking for more pain meds in the VA system.
    In the VA system you have to call monthly for any pain meds. The new PCP had his new nurse call and started pushing for a CBC chem 7 and UA. I have gotten these evey 6months for 15 years. But she was really pushing for this. I was also supposed to get testtossterone levels along with seizure med levels. The only thing this Dr focused on was the THC levels in my urine. Not one word about the rest of the test. My pain meds were due the day of the test. He didn’t refill them because he decided to be a medication policeman for the gov’t..
    They made an attepmt to contact 7 days later well after my script, MORPHINE, had ran out. They had to look at my information to call me yet they missed that I was within 15 feet of his office. If my wife didn’t call I would have had to drive home then back to the clinic. 240 mile round trip costing tax payers 180 dollars for my trouble. When I talked to the nurse she was surprised I was there. REALLY? I was informed that “there was marijuana in my system.”. I am 10 days past runnning out and my spares are gone. I am going through withdrawl as I am writting this.
    In the VA system you have to call to order pain meds monthly 2 weeks in advance. I waited for the meds and they never came, there was no phone call. I called again and the clerk told me they had no record of my call, not unusual for the VA system. The clerk happily took the request and I waited. Still no meds. because of the medication policing Dr.Sarkissian. The VA has said repeatedly that their Drs should not stop pain meds if marijuana is legal in the state you are in. It is in both NV and AZ. where I live.
    I called the patient rep Friday and never recieved a call back. I will call Monday to find out if there is a resolution. There won’t be. I will then call the hospital administrator after that, let the fun begin. I’ve delt with this system for 30 years. I know where to drill for the nerve .
    A Dr has no right to change a thing if he has never seen you. He has never given you a treatment plan. He has not done one thing except make you miserable. If a Dr can’t take the time to find out you are in the same clinic then how can he be trusted to treat you? Answer: He can’t. It is hard to find a competent Dr in the VA. Most go there at the end of their career, or the begining to pay off their student loan. Sometimes you get a good one. Most of the time you get a Dr Sarkissian and the patient will be tortured until he can get away from him or her.
    To all vets you may not be able to sue or file a tort, but you can make a complaint to the state medical board for the lack of treatment. That will be my third call. I’m retired becasue of what happened to me while in service of this country. I have nothing but time. I will find that nerve, bet on it.

  14. Having dealt with the VA – system and Medicaid – Medicaid is better. As far as the VA allowing you to smoke, depends on the doc. and there are NOT many that will approve it. In short, the VA sucks.

  15. Enough. What do we have available to clean-out the THC? Sonne #7 at fred myers health food section. It is a clay base liquid, toxins attach to it and is then pissed out. Used by IRON WORKERS in the union for their UA. Start 2 weeks before the test. Lighten up on the smoking the last week. Also I’ve heard the enzymes in an organic lemon works for light weight mj smokers. Plus the “head shoppes” have formulas to clean out THC. At a price. The timing is the hard thing. There should a test to check your system of thc. Do before going in, to guarantee it. Some of the clean outs strip your body. So take a chewable vit c tablet 1-2 hours before the test to give your urine some color. If urine is too clean I imagine that will be a red flag. Don’t tell the doctor anything. It gets written down for the next doctor to read. Avoid getting angry or upset, he’ll note it. I e-mailed my new doctor and told him I need a doctor not a cop. Didn’t do any good. Your doctor is no longer your friend, he is looking after himself only. I haven’t done the ua yet. I did find out that oxycodone goes for $1.00 a gram. that’s $5.00 for one 5gram pill. We can’t afford that either. I love my pot, what it does for me, but it won’t cover my stenosis back pain. Do I bluff and possibly loose my oxy or try to quit something I need. I’ll ask my doctor, because he knows I smoke mj, for lorazapan/tranquilizer to help me adjust to the change. I’ll take melatonin to help me sleep because without pot it will be difficult. I don’t like sleeping pills, its side effects are bad. Get the doctor to work with me over this. Then he’ll trust me more. Then ask him for just 2 tests a year because of the money, One test with all the illegal drugs. The next one only mj the cost will be less. Those tests are standard not necessary to check for herion, etc. on me again. I absolutely hate this just like you. I did read that patients are ending up in emergency rooms getting injected with opiates to calm down their pain. This is expensive too. We can’t get maintenance drugs but if we hurt ourselves bad like a broken wrist, we will be granted pain meds. Is this an option? For you or someone. We need more resources/answers/plans/bluffs.

  16. Help I need to find a pain dr in south east michigan , That doesnt discriminate against marijuana …anyone?????

  17. I am addicted to Opids an it is worse then being a Herion addic . You can not be weened off Opids it dosen’t work that way . The withdrawls you wish you were dead . I take 15mg. Oxycodone 4 times a day an Fenyal Duragisic Patches 50mg. every 48 hrs. There is know way I can just quit . Pot is not addictive if you go on face book to Medical Janes web site and see what pot can help . I hate takeing pills 3-4 times aday an get amund to the Opids !! Whats the next pill after Oxycodone ?? I hurt so bad at times I stay in bed all day they say they can’t take your pain away just keep you comfortable B.S. they don’t feel what I an how I feel . Pain Managment Drs. are full of shit every 3 months I give a U.A. Last time I was there she didn’t go over my MRI with me to busy I guess . I would give my things away if I could move where they do use it for medical use . An yes I worked hard all my life to have what I got . If I ever go threw the withdrawls again I will Kill myself cause I can’t handle it .

  18. Blaming the doctors when they are losing their afraid because the DA is after their ass. If you want to blame someone, blame the abuser. The ones that ask you for a pill or to sell you a pill or the ones on the street trying to sell pills. The laws are worse because of them. Doctors won’t touch pain pills anymore and will send you to pain clinics. They won’t touch you if you smoke pot because then they will be shut down. Laws need to change, doctors do need to take reponsiblity for helping their patients but these pill abusers are the reasons that those of us in constant pain are still in constant pain.

  19. I was just given a Rosery Hall Referral for thc in my mouth swab, and percs in my urine,funny how the urine was not mine but still showed up!!
    I have been going here for like 7 years and this happens, not good, not good at all/!!!

  20. I have been under a doctors care for degenerating disks,and now rheumatoid arthritis,and I very recently found I have 2 vertebra out of alignment.When my back flairs up, I cannot even stand upright,I look like a capitol L. I tested positive for marijuana in July after telling the doctor I smoked some. It helps with the pain, helps me relax to sleep,helps with my appitite.I am a widow who is totally alone and I have everything I have to do at my home including things my (late)husband would have done, like chopping firewood,yardwork,etc. If I don’t do it,there isn’t anyone as I am totally alone.My doctor said he didn’t see any reason to cut my pain meds off due to smoking,so I took his drug test.After seeing I was in excrutiating pain,he cut my percocets in half,and kept to ms contin the same amount.Then he tells me to see a Pain Management clinic.I am on disability and medicaid.None of the PM clinics in my area are taking any new medicaid patients unless they are under 21.So now my doctor doesn’t feel I need to have him manage my pain and wants a PM clinic to do it,even though he knows none in the area are taking new adult medicaid patients. I am almost out of my meds, with no where to turn.How can I get through to this doctor I need my pain meds and marijuana helps me? I was also told by my doctor he thinks they need to legalize it here in South Carolina. What am I to do without anything for my severe pain? I am being branded a junkie and a criminal because I use what Our Heavenly Father gave to us.In Genesis it says Our Father gave us grasses and seed bearing herbs,and marijuana is one of those seed bearing herbs.Why is something given to us to use with Our Fathers Blessing illegal? How DARE man become so arrogant as to brand we smokers junkies and criminals?! I don’t know what I’m going to do. PM clinics are crooks. One of our Constitutional Rights is to protect us from Illegal Search and Seizure,and drug testing is an illegal search,another is the Right to Privacy, and yet another is to Be secure in our own person. Yet, those of us who are smokers have each of these Rights taken away every time we are forced to submit to one of these drug tests.I am not a criminal. If I were to go to prison,I would literally be dead within 12 hours.I don’t think like a criminal,nor am I a mean person. I actually have to think a bit before I can even come back at someone who is mean to me. Yet, I am being labeled a criminal and made to feel ashamed because I smoke. My (late) Husband who was 45 passed from lung cancer he got from laying brick.Even the meds made for nausea from chemo didn’t help him. A little marijuana helped with the nausea,helped him sleep,and helped with his appitite. Me, I am being treated for breast cancer also and the drug,tamoxifen makes me sick, flares my RA up, and I was encouraged by the Cancer Society,and several support groups for breast cancer to smoke a little. Yet, I am a criminal. I am right up there with a killer, a crack head,a rapist,etc,because I smoke marijuana. How about that! The USA is the only country in the world that allows their citizens to walk around in pain. I read there is a Federal Law the REQUIRES a doctor to treat his patient and to elieviate their patients pain as much as possible,yet no one says a word when we marijuana smokers are cut off the pain meds we need to help us. Why? When will the rest of the country see the states that have legalized it aren’t blowing up, their citizens aren’t turning into drug crazed maniacs,they aren’t looking for heavier drugs.It may help to keep us all calmed down. Is that what they are afraid of? I want to know how do I make sure I can continue to get the meds I need to keep me out of pain.

  21. I am really sorry Helen, I could feel your pain. I wish you could find some guideness on finding a good doctor or pain clinic that would help you. Find a attorney if you have too because I would think they would have to wean you off instead of taking you off half. These doctors are crazy but they are just afraid because of being fearful of getting in trouble. Doctors really should be helping people with pain but it’s the drug abusers that has caused all this crap. people die, people sell them, people constantly asking me for my pills.. I can’t wait till they can make a pain pill that you can’t get high from. people in real pain don’t get high, the pill goes straight to the pain instead of the head.. I have never been high off it ever. As far as the pot goes, I am with you. I think it’s a gift from God and can be used for many good things. Laws need to be changed and hopefully what’s happen in a few states can pass quickly in the others. Good luck Helen.. all I have for you is my prayers

  22. Been taking oxycotin for over ten years because of a broken neck years ago that slowly caused more and more pain . Live in Houston and up to May of 2012 my Doc would test me and all tests came up pos for weed and she had no issue . Then in May she called and said I need a pain doc now and the first one I saw was a prick because of pot showing up in test . It was a shit hole ran by the worst money hungry doctor in the world , Dr. REZIK SAGER !! This a hole not only had a pain office he also had a pharmcy right there in it that he owned . Now I have a new doc who is ok but said either his drugs or street drugs so I can only take a few one hits a day or two after seeing him every month . I am always on edge stressed and let the smallest thing eat at me now , when I smaoked it was a few one hits mostly at night never more than that . I hate how I feel now I find no joy in anything and my Wife is getting fed up over me being mad at the world . But doctors like this REZIK SAQER need to be ran out of the country . I ve never been a hater but I truely hate this prick . Not because of the weed thing but because he’s getting rich over others pain . Of course he gives people with no insurance deals , but if you have insurance he rapes it and you . The crowd in his office is 70% a low class drug seeker type . Now anyone can over night find them selfs broke so its nothing aginst poor its just the type who know how to abuse the system . I am so damn mad right now thinking about it and just to think that a one hit of pot could ease my stress makes it worse . Some will say oh pot head or take a zanx or val ,no thanks and fuck you for thinking you can judge me .

  23. What is the cut off level for thc that a pain management dr can fire a patient for? I was using marijuanna for severe back spasms and was upfront with my dr about it and he was happy because it gave me some what of a life back. Although its not a replacement drug for my pain medication but together it was helping a great amount. I was only taking on average 3-5 hits throughout the day for several years. I’ve had 2 fusions (4bolts,4screws,4Rods) a titanium cage and a titanium disc put into my lower lumbar region. Now my dr is saying if I show positive 1 more time they will have to release me as a patient. I’ve been reading website and some say 50 ng/ml and some say as low as 15-20 ng/ml. I have stopped using marijuanna because the benefits of my pain meds are a bit better than what the marijuanna will do by itself. But now back to having to lay in bed all the time. Before I quit marjuanna use I had some what of a life outside the house. Without the marijuanna my spasms are so serious and debilitating that I fall on a daily basis. I have fell into my oven causing burns, cut my head open numerous times, once requiring 8 stitches. Also without it I am taking my maximum amount of medication OxyContin & oxycodone each day. Prior to quitting marijuanna I sometimes could get by on almost half as much on a really good day.

  24. been a pain ptient for a long time phentnyl patch oxycontin Roxicodone chronic valium my pcp has called me TFU totally fucked up hell I was on hydro 10/325 8 daily I have chronic fucking pain I went to California was given MMJ reccomdation then started having trouble getting meds come back to Tennessee got in to see a pcp at first no problem they knew I smoked not constant but I do smoke now all of a sudden they are weening me off roxi said I would have to see a phyc to keep getting my valium what does the word chronic mean at times I just want to put gun on my temple and end it but I love life I also found out I have hep c incurable probably at this stage so what difference does it make I just want a doctor to keep me comfortable it just does not matter no more I do not abuse my meds I have watched that happened to someone very close but I know I am RED FLAGGED the only thing I want is to be comfortable a legit pain patient what the fuck is wrog with this world THE USA

  25. Gary, I have hep C and now they have a cure for most people. It takes about three months and isn’t near as bad to take the meds as before, so don’t give up. Sometimes Hep C doesn’t hurt a person either even if they don’t get the cure… so go to the doctors and see the scoop on yours. Sorry you are feeling depressed, chronic pain can get you down for sure. Try to find someone to talk too, don’t give up… something good might happen soon to help us all. I do understand though about the need to find help for chronic pain … just hang in there.. we never know what’s around the corner.

  26. I’m having the same problem. I visit this site for the 1st time and couldn’t believe it, how everything’s being control this way. I’ve suffered carpal tunnel for years, hep C, high blood pressure and now a chronic back pain that gives me no life. After burying my husband almost 2 yrs. ago, putting my sick pup to sleep because he was sick after 11 yrs. having him, I was so depress and broken hearted, alone and smoking was the only thing that helped me with some anxiety attacks I started experiencing. I thought I was going to die once it was so bad. After going to the ER a few times, they couldn’t do nothing for it. My back pain doesn’t allow me to walk much or stand, the 5mg of oxycodone I take 3x’s a day is the only way to have a some sort of a life being that now I have no one to help in anything. By smoking MJ, it helped in my pain, especially with the depressions, I was crying every day. The pills weren’t enough, I’ve been on same dose for almost 4 yrs. They only last 4 hrs. on a good day, less on a bad one. I also drink one 50 mg. tramadol at bedtime or I’ll wake up in more pain and can’t sleep. I was wondering why my pain management doctor was doing drug test all of a sudden and now going on a 3 test. being embarrass, going in my records and looked at like a insect. I’m 56 yr. old already, tried and scare in what’s going to become of me with this deterging of my body. Being in pain everyday is not fun, not being able to do things and go out. Now I can’t have the freedom to smoke a little either. What about those that drink alcohol? is that next? when is our private life ours? with this internet already watching all of us. I could see this in hard drugs, but weed is harmless, I’ve smoked for yrs. and there were times when I didn’t for weeks. You control what you do yourself! with whatever meds you do to control your pain. if it weren’t for MJ which gives me the feeling to do things around the home, to relax my mind so the pain doesn’t take me over. It helped me too with the attacks too and not to mention my grief. I live near the beach when Sandy hit too, again I was alone through all this and still am. I felt so upset when my doctor asked me for another drug test, it was so degrading. Then they’re all judging you. Not everyone’s a criminal. After visiting here, I see it’s all governors doing this. May they all feel the pains we do maybe they’ll understand what we go through. It’s not fair in what they do, like a being a kid being told what to do, I have no rights. just be in pain. He had the nerve to tell me to volunteer, when I been telling him for yrs., that I hurt when I walk and can’t stand for long. With a budge in my L5 and really bad arthris that even my joins in my hands and feet changed, how can I? or I would, god I would.

  27. Hang in there… times are changing. Unless they experience chronic pain, they don’t understand~ but things will change because they want our money > not because they care. I wish you lived closer I would of loved to help some. Try to get out more and make new friends. I know it’s hard but try. Best of luck and hang on > it’s going to be legal soon.

  28. Marinol will give the same test results but if you have a script for it there’s none of the questions as if your smoking?? go figure, I guess if the doc prescribes you a pill it’s OK. Find a Doctor who will prescribe Marinol, it’s used for sickness brought on by your oxycodon and neurological problems

  29. Also Marinol is used for gaining weight… anyone I knew who had it used it to gain weight. Mabye mikes advice and this will help someone. Best of luck.

  30. My family doc cut me off and now I need to see a pain management doctor. I use MJ occassionally, I need a doctor in Florida, that will not crucify me for a positive THC test, HELP!!!

  31. They might let it go the first time but they won’t let it go the second. They are really strict on pot. I am so glad I don’t smoke anymore.

  32. Sorry I don’t know anyone in that area. I am sure most pain clinics are run the same way however. Your doctor should of referred you to a clinic near you to give you what you needed. Expect a blood and urine test the first time you go and then every six months. It’s by law they do it. Good luck

  33. The drug testng is now in Ky..My Dr will no longer prescribe Ambien, because I smoke a little pot..I do not take pain pills..This is Goverment getting involved in our Health Care..Governor Beshear came up with the KASPER LAW ( a Democrat) Innocent people are suffering from the law…Mostly our Seniors, which are forced to sumitt to a urine test..So many stories to tell..The drugs included in the Law..Pain killers, Cough Syrup, steroid meds, ADHD meds anti depressents,on and on..The Goverment think they are doctors..So if an insane person takes drugs or smokes pot, a doctor will not prescribe that person his physco meds..He will loose his job..

  34. Everyone who uses opium based pills/meds for pain relief should use methadone for pain. Check it out online and research it. It works so much etter for severe long term pain and is way cheaper! Try 60 bucks a month versus 600 bucks! Three receptors are better than one in your brain and serum levels achieved in three weeks means maintaining a pain free life. Yes there are drawbacks to this, but the good outweighs the bad. I really do not know why doctors do not advise their patients except for greed? Why else? Check it out and you will find this works better and cost less and you can have your life back.

  35. Oops! I forgot! I also got tested at my family doctor and in Delaware the Governor has signed a bill to catch anyone using a controlled substance of any kind if on a prescription for a pain med. I firmly believe the government is over-reaching and as a Libertarian, we need a grass roots voting drive to replace all Democrats and Republicans who are trying to become 1984’s Big Brother and restrict our freedoms. Marijuana use should be allowed by adults, but subjected to control just like booze. Why not? It is a hell of a lot less dangerous, isn’t it? It is the religious right wing nuts who want to control the masses and bend your will to their will, right? Please vote Libertarian and replace these over-bearing fools with a government of the people by the people and for the people!

  36. Doctors fear one thing and one thing only…their patients forming a watchdog group centered around their individual office. Patients meeting in discussion groups or here online would virtually control everything in any given doctors office. Everything from the amount of time they keep you waiting to the denial of pain meds to the less than polite office staff. Just imagine how most people would feel about their own doctors treating patients in the manner refelected in these cases posted here. Imagine the power of actually boycotting a doctors office with other patients.Imagine an entire day of patients canceling appointments [24 hours ahead of time of course] in protest of the unfair treatment of another patient. Imagine a website that allows you to view what happened and to whom and why it happened at your doctors office on any given day. Doctor’s are licensed and therefore subject to challenges to their license. Mulitiple license challenges can close an office. Helping people manage pain should be your doctors top priority. Never use any doctor that doesn’t prescribe pain medication,they’re not real doctors.Your doctors office is a business. Always speak to you doctor as an equal. It’s kinda shameful what a lot of doctors are doing to cover their own ass.Having DR. before your name used to command respect. Those days are gone. Patients have the power in numbers.

  37. Sad though I’m running into the same issue! I’m scared to death if my Dr finds out I use it when I physically can’t do anything else he’ll fire me if it comes back with positive THC. I’ve had 9 back surgeries and have been diagnosed with 6 bulging discs, neuropathy, tethered spinal cord (meaning its fraying apart) and an extremely rare spinal cord disorder called Idiopathic Spinal Cord Herniation. Back in 2012 there was 1 Dr in the U.S. that could put my spinal cord back into the dura sac, although it wouldn’t take away any of my pain. Well its been 2 yrs ago & the patch held up for 1yr. My spinal cord is out of the dura sac again, & they won’t do surgery again to repair it this time because they say I have to wait till I’m paralyzed first because the risk is to high doing the same procedure twice. I can still walk, but very very short distances & I pay for it if I do ANY physical activity at all. No cleaning, dishes, cooking, sitting or standing for long periods, bending often, squatting, ect. This condition has effected my entire body! Everyday every minute in chronic pain, spasming, numbness, tingling, loss of reflexes,loss of sensation to hot/cold on my left side of my body I could go on & on but some are rather embarrassing. I’m 34 yrs old and this has been going on since 2003 and some things came on gradually as others were rapid! It took until 2012 when a great Indian radiologist had seen this in India and I got extremely lucky after having close to 30-40 tests prior to this he found it, it was wrote on the radiology report but my back Dr didn’t even catch that…instead he caught the 2 bulging discs around that area T-6 & T-7. He sent me to the pain management Dr to get esi steroid injections when he noticed the diagnosis, then called & spoke to that radiologist. Anyways I live in Missouri, & I found the one & only Dr in the U.S. at that time (I believe there’s now one in California) I seen him in MI for a consultation, & was scheduled for surgery the following month. I was this foreign drs 6th patient… Yes a little scary. After getting in & performing the surgery I was the worst case documented so far. Only one other case was the spinal cord out of the dura sac in one area completely. Sadly this man came in paralyzed & still is…. Mine was out in 2 area. They were dumbfounded on how I was still able to walk! I knew how & why…power of prayer. Needless to say again the problems are continuing to get worse. I can’t sleep but about 2 hrs at a time averaging about 4 hrs a night every night. I was told to try using marijuana to help relax my muscles, help with pain, & help me sleep!!! It works, it helps more than any medication they’ve ever given to me! Without using it at bedtime again 4 hrs total all day and night is what I get. I don’t use it during the day unless the pain is so intense I can’t take it. What’s bad is no hospital around here knows anything about this condition. Its not on web MD, you can Google it & that’s how I found the Dr in MI Dr Paul Park in Michigan at the university of Michigan state hospital. There’s a huge documents written by 6 drs with picture, symptoms, ect. Basically I’m on my own along with this one Dr I see to help manage my pain, as he stays in touch with my Dr in Michigan. I’m so scared if & when they do a random drug screen he’ll fire me, although he’s always apologizing to me that he can’t do anything more besides give me prescriptions & occur esi steroid injections in my lumber area where the other 4 bulging discs are (but L-5 S-1 was fused and a laminectomy was done on the other discs above.
    If everyone had to expierence daily chronic debilitating pain every minute of everyday I think it would be passed & legalized in every state. I only do 3-5 puffs before bed as I said unless pain is so high. Again no hospital here can do anything except load me up with tons of narcotics… Now you tell me what’s better…tons of narcotics, or a few drags of marijuana?!

  38. If interested in knowing about this condition Idiopathic Spinal Cord Herniation as I’m sure so many people have & haven’t been correctly diagnosed go to this website, scroll to the bottom of the pg & click on “view full PDF” If any questions I’d be happy to respond. It’s my hope to spread the word of this condition as again I know people are suffering & have been for yrs & aren’t being diagnosed correctly because its rare & the drs are uneducated about it. There was a little over 100 cases when this article was written in 2007. God bless each one of you dealing with chronic daily pain as my prayers go out to everyone & to pass this law for us to get relief without fear of the law or loosing our drs!

  39. The only suggestion I have is to ask the Dr. to prescribe you Marinol. I struggled with the problem your having at the Pain Management until I met one Dr. who suggested I try this to help the sickness that comes along with using high doses of opiates. To my pleasure it helped the sickness, it also helped ease the pain with the neuropathy in my legs and feet. This drug shows up as THC in your system so if you can get the prescription you’ll be safe from the testing. I also have epilepsy and since I started the Marinol I haven’t had one seizure, it’s been over three years now.
    The only other solution is to refuse to test, and get everyone else to do the same. If we all refused to take the test these offices would stop the unneeded procedure that has nothing to do with your health and no medical benefits for the patient. One month of no patients and these archaic rules would be put to the side. One month of everyone refusing would put most pain management clinics out of business. when business drops so would the testing, but it would take a concerted effort on most everyone who has to use the PM Dr’s. the last time I was ask to test I refused and nothing happened. The nurse didn’t like it but the Dr. still saw me, while setting in the waiting room several other people said they were going to do the same. This Dr. will either change his policy or loose all his business. My insurance won’t pay for the testing and every time I am tested, a $600 bill comes to the house, I have refused to pay these bills. It helps me in no way medically and no one should have to pay a bill for something that has no medical benefit. That’s just my 2 cents worth, but we need a nation wide boycott of any clinic who tests for any drug not prescribed to you.

  40. Thanks MS, I’ll look into that drug for sure & see if its able to be prescribed in Missouri. I as well will have to pay if they pull a random on me. I will refuse it for that reason for sure! Thanks again!

  41. Anyone know if Marinol is prescribed for the conditions I listed above and covered by insurance? If not covered anyone have the amt they have to pay for a monthly script? Thanks!

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