2019 Healthcare Ethics and Law Conference

Medical Marijuana: Its Benefits and Risks to Society

Friday, Sept. 6, 2019

8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Regions Community Room, Cooney Hall at Samford University 

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Samford University's Healthcare Ethics and Law Institute's annual conference is designed to help Alabama institutional ethics committees at all levels with some of today’s most pressing health care and law issues.



Conference registration costs $50 per person, which includes lunch and conference materials. Samford students and faculty receive free registration. Contact Scott Bickel at cbickel@samford.edu for the promotional code. A Samford ID must be shown at registration. 

Advanced registration is encouraged as seating is limited. 


2019 Healthcare Ethics and Law Conference

Friday, Sept. 6, 2019

  • 8 to 8:15 a.m.
    • Welcome and Announcements
  • 8:15 to 9:15 a.m.
    • The Changing Legal and Ethical Contexts of Medical Marijuana and CBD
    • Presented by David Smolin, J.D., Harwell G. Davis Professor Constitutional Law and director of the Center for Children, Law and Ethics at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law
  • 9:15 to 10:15 a.m.
    • Medical Cannabis: What is the Evidence for its use?
    • Presented by Tyler Gaston, M.D., assistant professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Neurology 
  • 10:15 to 10:30 a.m.
    • Break
  • 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
    • Real Medicines Have Real Risks: Marijuana’s Potential Health Hazards Explained
    • Presented by Erik Messamore, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University, Department of Psychiatry
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
    • Edmund Pellegrino Medal for Healthcare Ethics Award Luncheon
  • 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.
    • Title TBD
    • Scott Gottlieb, MD, American Enterprise Institute and 23rd Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2017-2019)
  • 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.
    • Suffering, Marijuana, and the Goals of Medicine
    • Presented by Farr Curlin, M.D., Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities and co-director of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke University
  • 2:15 to 2:30 p.m.
    • Break
  • 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
    • Medical and Recreational Marijuana Laws: Effects on Marijuana and Opioid Outcomes in the U.S. Adolescent and Adult Population
    • Presented by Silvia Martins, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor and director of Substance Abuse Epidemiology Unit at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health,  Department of Epidemiology
  • 3:30 p.m.
    • Wrap Up and Program Evaluation

Speaker Bios

David Smolin, J.D.

Harwell G. Davis Professor of Constitutional Law and Director of the Center for Children, Law and Ethics at Samford University

 David Smolin, J.D. first joined the faculty at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law in 1987. Prior to this, he practiced law, most notably serving as a clerk for Senior Judge George Edwards, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. As the director of Cumberland School of Law's Center for Children, Law and Ethics, Smolin's expertise and research interest lie in reproductive constitutional issues, international children's issues (adoption, children's rights, child labor, child trafficking), family and juvenile law, and law and religion. Smolin earned is J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Order of the Coif.

Tyler Gaston, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Tyler Gaston, M.D. is a board-certified neurologist with additional expertise in the treatment of epilepsy.  She completed her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University, medical degree at the University of South Alabama, and her neurology residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Gaston’s research includes establishing and maintaining clinical trials for novel treatments in epilepsy, particularly in pharmacologic therapies. She is also interested in better understanding what leads to cognitive difficulties in patients with epilepsy. She has published on the impact of cannabidiol on seizure disorder and its interaction with other commonly used antiepileptic drugs.

Erik Messamore, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University

Erik Messamore, M.D., Ph.D. is an expert in the fields of psychopharmacology, complex mood disorders, psychosis and schizophrenia. His Ph.D. is in Pharmacology, with an emphasis on neuropharmacology, and his early research was focused on the preclinical development of medications to treat Alzheimer’s disease. He completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. He received his Medical Degree from the University of Illinois and completed a residency in Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

He currently serves as an associate professor of psychiatry at the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) in Rootstown, Ohio. He is also the Medical Director of NEOMED’s Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center. He is a seasoned clinician and accomplished scientist, with a passion for improving the lives of those affected by mental illness.

Farr Curlin, M.D.

Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities at Duke University

Farr Curlin, M.D. is a hospice and palliative care physician who joined Duke University in January 2014 where he holds joint appointments in the School of Medicine, including its Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine, and in Duke Divinity School, including its Initiative on Theology, Medicine and Culture.

He works with Duke colleagues to foster scholarship, study, and training regarding the intersections of medicine, ethics, and religion. After graduating from medical school, he completed internal medicine residency training and fellowships in both health services research and clinical ethics at the University of Chicago before joining its faculty in 2003.

Curlin’s empirical research charts the influence of physicians' moral traditions and commitments, both religious and secular, on physicians' clinical practices. As an ethicist, he addresses questions regarding whether and in what ways physicians' religious commitments ought to shape their clinical practices in a plural democracy. 

Silvia Martins, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, and Director of Substance Abuse Epidemiology Unit at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Silvia S. Martins, M.D., Ph.D. is the Director of the Substance Abuse Epidemiology Unit of the Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She is also the co-director of the NIDA T32 Substance Abuse Epidemiology Training Program in the department and the Course Director of Principles of Epidemiology (P6400). She is also the Department of Epidemiology Co-Investigator of the IMSD program at Columbia.

Martins has co-authored more than 150 peer reviewed epidemiological and substance abuse journal articles, served as PI or MPI of multiple NIH funded grants. Notable recent findings have focused on recent trends in marijuana use, the relationship of perceived availability of marijuana with medical marijuana laws, traffic fatalities and medical marijuana laws and increasing trends in heroin use and heroin use disorder in the general U.S. adult population.

Her current research focuses on consequences of medical marijuana laws in the U.S, recreational marijuana laws in Uruguay, prescription drug monitoring programs, social media and marijuana, and gambling and impulsive behaviors among minority adolescents in the U.S. She has been continuously funded by NIH since 2006 as a Principal Investigator.

Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

Resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and 23rd Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2017-2019)

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He returned to AEI in 2019 after serving as the 23rd commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At AEI, he continues his work on improving public health through entrepreneurship and medical innovation and on expanding regulatory approaches to maintain patient and physician autonomy.

At the FDA, Gottlieb focused on a wide variety of issues, including drug pricing, medical product innovation, food safety, vaccination, and tobacco and vaping. He advanced new policies to address opioid addiction, working to rationalize prescribing as a way to reduce the rate of new addiction. He helped make the regulatory process for the development and review of novel drug and medical devices more efficient, including the approval of the first gene-therapy-based cancer treatment. He also presided over a record number of novel drug and medical device approvals first in 2017, and then breaking that record in 2018.

Gottlieb previously served in other capacities at the FDA, including as deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs, senior adviser for medical technology, and director of medical policy development. Earlier, he served as senior policy adviser to the administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Until he joined the FDA as commissioner, he was also a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine. 

Gottlieb has a medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and did his residency in internal medicine at the Mount Sinai Medical Center. He has a B.A. in economics from Wesleyan University.

Continuing Education


Official logo for ACPESamford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacyis accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education as a provider of continuing pharmacy education. This is an ACPE knowledge based program appropriate for pharmacists. 0002-0000-19-007-L04-P.

This program provides 5.5 contact hours  if all sessions are attended. No partial credit can be given.

Credit will be awarded based on attendance and participation. Credit will be uploaded to ACPE through CPE Monitor within 60 days of attendance; NABP e-Profile ID and date of birth (MMDD) are required.


6.9 ABN  Credit Hours: NurCE is an Alabama Board of Nursing approved provider of continuing nursing education. (Provider Number: ABNP0004, Valid through November 15, 2022)


The logo for Brookwood Baptist Health

Accreditation Statement

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council  for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of Brookwood Baptist Health and Samford University.  Brookwood Baptist Health is accredited by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Designation Statement

Brookwood Baptist Health designates this live activity for a maximum of 5.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Social Work

This conference is approved for 4 CEU’s. Samford is an approved CEU provider with the ABSWE