With so-called medical cannabis soon to be available under certain conditions in Alabama, the legislature is looking at ways to prevent pregnant women from using it.
The Drug Free Babies Act will soon be brought by State Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) and State Rep. Susan Dubose (R-Hoover). However, neither has been filed in the legislature.
According to a release from Eagle Forum of Alabama, which endorsed the bill, the Act is designed to “close a dangerous loophole” in Alabama’s 2021 Compassion Act, which legalized medical cannabis in the state.
“Growing research shows that cannabis use damages DNA and induces epigenetic changes to both the sperm and egg, increasing rates of cancer and neurological defects, such as autism.” The release read. “Prenatal exposure to cannabis interrupts important pathways in fetal development, resulting in several types of birth defects. The DFB will establish clearly defined guidelines critical to protecting babies, children, and families from these generational harms.”
The Act would create several guidelines for cannabis dispensaries to follow before a woman can purchase medical cannabis, including:
Follow the guidelines set forth by the FDA's Pledge program, which prevents prenatal exposure to an acne medicine, Accutane, known for its teratogenic (birth defect) effects.
Any female with pregnancy potential must have a negative pregnancy test when applying for and renewing a medical cannabis card.
They must also obtain a negative pregnancy test at a local clinic or certified lab within 72 hours of purchasing from a cannabis dispensary.
The verification process will be managed through the patient and caregiver registry system. The negative pregnancy test will be submitted to the registry and verified at the dispensary.
Additionally, the bill will contain several provisions for informed consent, requiring medicinal cannabis patients to do the following:
Follow the educational requirements and acknowledgment of reproductive risks exemplified by the FDA's Accutane iPledge system.
Patients of both sexes will receive education about specific reproductive and genetic risks of cannabis when applying for and renewing their medical cannabis card.
The risks will be read aloud by the dispensary worker before purchase and documented as read and acknowledged.
All medical cannabis clinics and dispensaries will be required to post warning signs of reproductive and genetic risks of cannabis.
The Act is endorsed by Eagle Forum of Alabama, the Alabama Policy Institute, the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, the Alabama Citizens Action Program and Alabama's Children First.
The legislature is currently on spring break but will resume session on April 4.
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