Sure, Just Need to See Your Medical Marijuana Card and a Pregnancy Test, Please?
March ended on a high note for Alabama’s medical cannabis industry. Republican Senator Larry Stutts filed a bill to make negative pregnancy tests required for women needing medical cannabis. This proposal has been met with a backlash from cannabis users and advocates. The introduced bill states that women in the medical cannabis program who are old enough to conceive will have to take pregnancy tests routinely and submit the results to cannabis dispensaries before they can be allowed to make any purchase. Only patients with negative results will be approved to use medical cannabis.
All test results must be from recognized medical facilities in the state. The medical practitioners in charge of this must be certified by the state’s medical department. The women affected by this proposed bill are between 24 and 51. Growth Op reported that these women would be required to tender the test results at least two days before the drugs can be dispensed.
The nine months of gestation is a very tricky period. From the start to the end of this development process in the woman’s body, a lot of factors must be considered to ensure the baby comes out healthy and fine. This latest bill eliminates the risk to a child’s well-being relating to cannabis use. The Growth Op says female cannabis users will submit their pregnancy results to the physician-in-charge. The licensed Alabama medical officer will use the results to determine whether or not the woman will be barred from using medical cannabis till the baby is born.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Larry Stutts, also included provisions to deny breastfeeding or nursing mothers the chance to use or purchase cannabis-derived drugs or medical cannabis flowers. Only those who are registered caregivers would be exempted from this proposed law. In addition, a 305-meter distance between medical cannabis stores and children-serving establishments, daycares, colleges, and schools. This distance would be regarded as a “buffer zone.”
Amending the Constitution
Senator Stutts filed this measure as an amendment to the 2021 Alabama medical cannabis law. In the law’s provision, women of childbearing age had the choice of providing the test results from any physician. The 2021 law also permits documentation from medical labs with operation licenses in Alabama.
According to Marijuana Moment, the new measure makes it compulsory for the documentation to be tendered about two days before purchase. This would be done whenever the lady is about to renew her prescription. As soon as a registered patient tests positive for pregnancy, a memo will be issued to ban her throughout the gestation period and most likely throughout the breastfeeding duration. That is a year and some months of no cannabis products.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) staff attorney Emma Roth mentioned that the bill is out of place. She said that the only thing the bill would accomplish was violating a woman’s right to privacy. Not to mention that women also deserve equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Her opinion is that women should be left alone to do what’s suitable for their kids.
While Emma Roth may be on the right path, some lawmakers believe that the decision to use or not to use weed shouldn’t rest with the mother without any law to back it up. Additionally, Roth backed her claim by stating that medical marijuana has never posed a threat during pregnancy. She said that this measure is more or less the government’s method of policing pregnancies. Other solid points Roth laid down touched on how the government would be able to prevent smokers from carrying out their sessions around smokers. Or how to stop women from consuming caffeinated products or performing factory duties.
A 2020 study disclosed no viable evidence to prove that prenatal cannabis use or exposure is responsible for any significant loss of cognitive functions in newborns. Civil rights activists and drug policy advocates have used studies like this to put up a stringent front against the proposed reforms.
However, Senator Stutts maintains that women, especially cannabis-using women of childbearing age between 24 and 51, have to be controlled. He suggests that men in positions of power are the best people to handle these ladies. In a local radio program a few weeks ago, Stutts said that the current medical law failed to set proper parameters and needed improvement. He further explained that limiting the availability of cannabis to pregnant women is one of the major and result-oriented strategies for improving the cannabis law.
Call For Change In Other States.
In 2018, Oklahoma attempted to adopt the use of pregnancy test results to clear women of childbearing age for cannabis purchase and use. The call for these tests was dropped some months later. If the measure had been scaled through at that time, it would have been implemented within the same year.
A while back, Arizona charged a female resident for using cannabis-derived medications despite having a baby. Her offense was labeled as child neglect. In mid-2021, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women revealed that marijuana use had little or no effect on the health of expecting mothers and their babies. The brand quoted peer-reviewed scientific research to get this right. According to the peer-review report, cannabis is the least probable drug that could harm or create a great risk for mothers and unborn or newly-born infants.
Early last month, Stutts filed the virtual form of this same bill. The reintroduction of the physical committee was addressed to another committee in the senate. Stutt, who also works as an Obstetrician, says it is only fitting for the chambers to trust his judgment on prenatal and antenatal care. However, Stutts has always been vocal about his dislike of cannabis reforms, so it is difficult to ascertain if this measure is genuinely needed.
It would be best if more studies were carried out to give an in-depth report of the effects of cannabis usage and exposure on pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Note that Alabama’s medical cannabis legalization bill is limited. Other reforms could make the bill permanent rather than focusing on non-important parameters.