Published on September 18, 2019 by Sarah Waller  
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For the past 20 years, Samford University’s Healthcare Ethics and Law Conference has invited students and medical professionals to campus for a vibrant discussion on some of the most pressing health care ethics and law issues facing society today. This year’s conference was no exception, convening national thought leaders to discuss the benefits and risks associated with medical marijuana. 

This day-long conference hosted by Samford’s Center for Faith and Health and its Healthcare Ethics and Law Institute, included presentations from six speakers. In these presentations, the speakers shared varying evidence and research, allowing those in attendance to form their own opinions.

These speakers include:

  • David Smolin, J.D., Harwell G. Davis Professor on Constitutional Law and director of the Center for Children, Law and Ethics at Samford’s Cumberland School of Law
  • Tyler Gaston, M.D., assistant professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Medicine
  • Erik Messamore, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University
  • Farr Curlin, Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities at Duke University
  • Scott Gottlieb, M.D., resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and 23rd Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Silvia Martins, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Substance Abuse Epidemiology Unit at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

“The debate surrounding medical marijuana is unique in the way perceptions can vary greatly between the medical community and its patient population, which is why this year’s conference is so important,” said Nena Sanders, vice provost of Samford’s College of Health Science and current fellow of the Healthcare Ethics and Law Institute. “As current and future medical professionals, we must understand the ongoing research and engage in a meaningful discussion—while at the same time—being aware of the public health risks.” 

Following each presentation, speakers offered a time of questions and answers. “This is truly where the purpose of the conference is on full display,” said Scott Bickel, director of the Center for Faith and Health and professor in Samford’s School of Health Professions. “As we engage in these ethical topics, dialogue is key. Everyone I spoke to following the conference said they left feeling energized to learn more and continue the conversation.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.