Bill Forcing Women to Prove They're Not Pregnant Before Buying Weed Advances in Alabama
The bill would also ban women who are breast-feeding from purchasing medical cannabis.
Published on April 7, 2022

An Alabama bill advanced in the state legislature that would require all women between the ages of 25 to 50 to show negative pregnancy test results before purchasing medical cannabis. 

The bill, SB 278, was approved last Thursday by the Alabama State Senate’s Children, Youth, and Human Services Committee. If signed into law, it would also ban breast-feeding women from accessing medical cannabis. (Not surprisingly, the bill excludes transgender men and other people who can get pregnant.)

For those who may think proving pregnancy status just involves a quick trip to CVS, think again. The bill mandates that pregnancy test results must come “either from [the cannabis consumer’s] physician or documentation from a certified medical lab that has been ordered by a physician licensed in Alabama.” The testing requirement would make cannabis much more expensive for women, to the tune of an entire doctor’s visit every time they need to re-up.

Additionally, test results must be no older than 48 hours before the time of purchase, meaning women would have to schedule their test right before buying cannabis — every single time they buy.

There's no scientific consensus regarding whether cannabis is harmful to pregnant people or their nursing babies. However, some research indicates cannabis could have positive effects on certain pregnancy symptoms like nausea, pain, and anxiety. That’s led to a growing number of pregnant people choosing to consume cannabis, with or without their doctor’s permission.

Science, unfortunately, is not what this bill is about. In fact, the proposal might be seen as part of a larger, nationwide war against women, gestating people, and the trans community that has ramped up considerably over the past few weeks. For instance, in Arizona, the governor signed anti-abortion and anti-trans bills last week, making the Grand Canyon State the latest to further penalize people for taking control over their own bodies. And yesterday, Oklahoma's House passed a bill that would practically ban abortion there.

But SB 278 is not all about sexism. The bill's author doesn’t like weed, either. “I’m still not in favor of the marijuana bill, but it is in place,” said Sen. Stutts — who is also a gynecologist — on an Alabama radio program, as reported by Jezebel. “I think it can be improved, and one of the ways it can be improved is to limit pregnant people, limit their availability to it.”

This proposal is unsettling because we’ve already seen cannabis wielded as a weapon against pregnant people and parents. State agencies have accused cannabis-consuming parents of child abuse, simply for consuming cannabis. An Arizona mother, Lindsey Ridgell, just won a hard-fought battle with the state’s court of appeals after she was arrested and charged with child neglect: She tested positive for THC when her kid was born, despite having a doctor's recommendation for cannabis.

The Alabama proposal takes the persecution of cannabis-using mothers to another level. No state has ever passed such a pregnancy test requirement for buying medical weed.

“This is completely unprecedented because it is so clearly unconstitutional,” Emma Roth, a staff attorney with the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told a local publication.

 Follow Caitlin on Instagram, and catch her Spanish-language podcast Crónica on Spotify and Mixcloud. 

Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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