In an era where it is more important than ever to re-establish trust between doctor and patient, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners has shockingly thrown caution to the wind regarding the health and well-being of Alabama’s children. If the Alabama Legislature does not take quick corrective action, the most vulnerable in our state stand to be unprotected from a toxic “remedy” legitimized by our governing medical authority: marijuana.

Unlike the tragic train derailment in East Palestine, OH, this toxic exposure will not be limited to a single town. It will spread throughout our state.

Marijuana is certainly nothing new or innovative. Nor have double-blind controlled trials shown it to be safe or effective for children or pregnant mothers. In fact, when common sense still reigned supreme, society went out of its way to protect children and the unborn from this noxious substance. But now, like a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing, our medical establishment is ready to roll out marijuana as a panacea for any number of ailments troubling us.

The Alabama Legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey enacted a disastrous “medical” marijuana law in 2021. For years our physicians, educators, law enforcement, and child advocates citing the harms of cannabis successfully kept the marijuana industry out of Alabama.

But then COVID hit. While our lives were turned upside down and the State House was closed to the public, the marijuana lobbyists swooped in and won the day.

The Alabama taxpayer is already on the hook to the tune of millions of dollars for a cannabis commission that will usher in an industry intent on profiting from addiction. The harms to citizens steadily increase each year in states where marijuana use has been legalized. But while the growing body of scientific medical research continually demonstrates the adverse effects of cannabis exposure, our conflicted medical authorities vacillate between the best practices for legitimate medical care and the pressures of the cannabis industry.

This is displayed by the woefully inadequate rules for dispensing marijuana proposed in November 2021 which did not include any meaningful protections for children and the unborn. There were no clear physician guidelines for recommending the use of marijuana, nor was there definitive guidance regarding informed consent about adverse reactions as well as drug interactions.

There was a generous public comment time regarding these rules, and the medical community recommended requiring pregnancy testing, lock boxes for homes with children, documentation of the prior failure of standard medical treatments, frequent follow-up monitoring visits, and a system to report and treat adverse reactions.

Sadly, none of these suggestions were adopted.

Instead, the medical board created a “window dressing” regulation by prohibiting a cannabis doctor from recommending a marijuana card to a pregnant or lactating woman. Unfortunately, it does not require a negative pregnancy test or any follow-up outside a yearly check-up.

According to Doan Law Firm, which litigates for damages caused by the marijuana industry and cannabis doctors, marijuana can put your child at increased risk for autism, heart defects, microcephaly, down syndrome, spina bifida, and more. While I commend the medical authority for recognizing the harms of cannabis to the developing baby and newborn, regulations are needed to protect the patient, not just the doctor’s liability.

Fortunately, the “Drug Free Babies Act” can fill that gap. While a small group of legislators claim the Alabama medical board rule will suffice, as a physician of over 30 years, I can tell you that this is a dangerous assumption. I call upon the legislature to do better.

Unfortunately, there are several state political leaders who seem to have sold out to the marijuana interests. They are using their power to ensure that any efforts to bring forward legislation like the Drug Free Babies Act will die in committee.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission was created to oversee this pseudo-treatment, but sadly it seems more concerned with furthering the interests of marijuana producers and providers than in assuring public and patient safety. The Commission has failed to improve regulations for the protection of babies, failed to tighten rules for the exposure of children to marijuana, and has ignored important peer-reviewed medical journal reports clearly pointing to the carcinogenic and teratogenic nature of cannabis. The cannabis products they are promulgating should at least have an associated risk evaluation and mitigation strategy such as the iPLEDGE program for the use of Accutane. Honestly, these products should have a warning statement like those found on packages of cigarettes.

As a physician, I have seen firsthand the problems marijuana use has caused my patients. But I am also a father who grieves for a son who died of an overdose … which all began with his unfortunate early exposure to marijuana, turning into an addiction he was never able to shake.

“There is nothing new under the sun,” the wise King Solomon once said. No matter how you dress it up, marijuana is an addictive and dangerous substance from which our children and the unborn should be protected. If our state legislators and governor do not quickly fix the problems in our so-called medical marijuana law, or repeal it altogether, they will be responsible for what will essentially be a state-sanctioned drug cartel.

A native of Huntsville, Dr. Michael Brown is a retired gastroenterologist who obtained his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians as well as the American College of Gastroenterology. He has continued his work in research and also as a GI Hospitalist. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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