Alabama Bill Would Force Women Who Want Medical Marijuana to Show Negative Pregnancy Tests
Updated: Apr 18, 2022
You can’t get an Alabama Marijuana Card yet, but state politicians are already coming up with plans to limit your right to medicate as you and your doctor see fit.
An Alabama State Senator introduced a bill this week that would force “women of childbearing age” to produce a negative pregnancy test when purchasing medical marijuana. And while we’re sure privacy experts and the ACLU may sound off on this proposal should it become law, medical marijuana advocates should be sounding the alarm over this latest example of the unfair stigma still projected onto a safe, effective, legal medicine.
State Senator Claims Bill Meant to Protect Mothers and Fetuses
State Senator Larry Stutts claims his bill was motivated by a desire to protect mothers and children and not out of some effort to malign medical marijuana or to discourage constituents from using the medication.
“Just as we instruct women to avoid alcohol and drugs during pregnancy, it is important to the health of a child for their mother to abstain from the use of cannabis,” Stutts was quoted as saying by Alabama Daily News. “There is no safe level of marijuana use during pregnancy. Therefore, it is reasonable to ensure that pregnant or breastfeeding women and cannabis cards do not coincide.”
Senator’s Explanation Has Some Merit
Stutts is correct in suggesting that it may not be safe for fetal development for expecting mothers to use medical marijuana.
Like many other medications, there is some evidence that cannabis can be harmful to the unborn. The CDC says that children whose mothers used marijuana while pregnant with them may later experience “problems with attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and behavior… later in life.
From this perspective, one can easily see Stutts’ legislation as well-intentioned and perhaps even reasonable. However, what this perspective overlooks is how unfair his bill is to women patients and how inconsistent it is with the way Alabama law handles other such medicines.
Many Medications Are Unsafe for Pregnant Women, But Only Medical Marijuana Under Fire
Senator Stutts may be correct that the government has an interest in the pregnancy status of medical marijuana patients, but that doesn’t mean his legislation is fair or wise.
Stutts’ bill is unfair is the way it justifies an intrusion upon the privacy of female medical marijuana patients, while leaving innumerable medications dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn babies unscrutinized.
Medical news and information site Healthline lists more than ten prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are detrimental to the health of pregnant women and/or their fetuses. The Senator has yet to write bills suggesting that women of childbearing age should have to make a trip to the doctor, take a pregnancy test, and then show those test results to the Publix cashier before they’re able to purchase ibuprofen or ativan.
The Senator also didn’t rush to craft bills to protect mothers from beer, cigarettes, and Twinkies. Where is Stutts’ action on fetal alcohol syndrome? What is he doing about women who smoke tobacco during pregnancy, even though it “increases the risk of health problems for developing babies, including preterm birth, low birth weight, and birth defects of the mouth and lip (and) sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)?” The consequences of malnutrition during pregnancy are equally well-known and have equal potential for tragedy, and yet once again the Senator has taken no action.
Stutts is right that government officials “instruct women to avoid alcohol and drugs during pregnancy,” but he is wrong to equate that to forcing women to undergo an invasion of privacy in order to fill a prescription. We the people elect officials who intrust women, not who make laws based on which of those women’s habits they approve of and which they condemn. And Senator Stutts has certainly condemned medical marijuana.
Senator Stutts Has History of Anti-Medical Marijuana Bias
Senator Stutts has a history of opposing medical marijuana. Interestingly, in his history of bashing a maligned medicine, he cited reasons for his opposition, but none of those reasons involved the safety of unborn babies.
Stutts Has Opposed Medical Marijuana for Branding Reasons
The reason Stutts gave for opposing the creation of a medical marijuana market in Alabama had nothing to do with the safety of the medication but over what the medication is called.
“And I’m really against (medical marijuana) on two fronts,” Stutts said in February of 2021 to explain his opposition to SB 46, the law that created a medical marijuana market here. He continued, saying “one, on the medical standpoint, there is no other medicine that you have to put an adjective in front of it to make it sound legitimate. They say ‘medical marijuana.’ Well, it’s just marijuana. They don’t say ‘medical Tylenol’ or ‘medical aspirin.’ With any legitimate medicines, you don’t have to put an adjective in front of it to make it sound like it is real medicine.”
Of course neither Tylenol or aspirin were the victims of decades of government overreach and poor publicity. But Stutts continued, pulling out an old canard that prohibitionists love to evoke against medical marijuana: If it’s medicine, then just wait for the FDA to approve it.
“We have a process for approving medication and it has served our country very well,” Stutts said. “If medical marijuana is really medical, it ought to go through the same process other medications go through to be approved.”
It’s a common prohibitionist approach to suggest that medical marijuana advocates have been working through state legislatures as an end-run around the FDA, who has not recognized marijuana as medicine. What Senator Stutts forgot to mention was that the FDA cannot recognize marijuana as medicine, as it’s legally forbidden to do so.
Because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, the FDA, a federal agency, legally cannot make recommendations about marijuana.
In essence, Senator Stutts was arguing that Alabama should not have decided for itself what is best for the state but should have instead left that to the federal government. So much for small government conservatives!
Senator Stutts Opposed Medical Marijuana Because He Was Against Big Government
But, gosh, the senator can’t be suggesting that, because the second reason he opposed medical marijuana was because he was against big government. “And again, from the medical standpoint, (medical marijuana) totally circumvents pharmacies that have played a vital role in the safe distribution of all sorts of medications for generations,” he added back in February of 2021. “And now, we’re just going to have dispensaries where you can go and get it, and it won’t be a pharmacist running it. It will be somebody who got the license to run it. I think it bypasses the whole medical process, and it just grows government.”
Here the senator tried to have his cake and eat it too, implying that medical marijuana would be unsafe because of a lack of oversight and suggesting that any oversight created by a medical marijuana law would be growing the government.
We cannot have medical marijuana, he said, because it would be taking a medical decision out of the hands of pharmacists and putting it in the hands of a new, government-run bureaucracy. The state of Alabama can certify and license pharmacists to dispense medicine, and that’s fine. But, if the people of Alabama elect a government that decides to certify and license any other group of professionals to dispense medications, that “grows government.”
Is This Really About Women and Babies or About Unreasoning Opposition to Medical Marijuana?
Before Alabama had a medical marijuana law, Stutts opposed it with hypocritical and flawed reasoning. Now that we have a medical marijuana law, he opposes it for the harm it poses to unborn children, even though he didn’t cite that concern before the law was passed and he hasn’t expressed that concern about any other potentially dangerous substances.
It’s almost like we finally won the fight for medical marijuana in Alabama, but we still have to deal with the hypocrites in government who kept fighting us over it for so long.
Fortunately, whatever else irate, frustrated prohibitionist lawmakers may throw at us, they can’t change one simple fact: Yellowhammer State residents may apply for an Alabama Marijuana Card and treat their qualifying conditions with safe, effective medical marijuana.
If you’ve been wondering if medical marijuana might be right for you, why not find out?
Reserve an evaluation online today with one of our compassionate cannabis doctors, and we’ll make an appointment for you just as soon as we’re cleared to. And if you make your reservation online, you’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
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At Alabama Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-5633, or simply reserve a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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