Gary Richter, an integrative medicine veterinarian and author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide, thinks of marijuana as part of a holistic approach to animal health. He is aware of the controversy — and illegality — of medical marijuana for pets, but the Oakland, Calif.-based vet has seen enough anecdotal evidence to sway him.
Earlier this year, Richter initiated a petition on MoveOn.org to “allow compassionate use of medical cannabis for animals in California.” The petition, as of this writing, is only 185 signatures away from his goal of 1,000.
According to Richter’s post:
Pets receive the same benefits from medical cannabis as humans. A compassionate use law for animals will allow veterinarians to provide guidance to people regarding the safe and effective use of cannabis for their pets.
As a veterinarian, I have seen first-hand how medical cannabis benefits animals in ways conventional Western medicine cannot. Currently, veterinarians are being threatened with disciplinary action if they have “involvement in the treatment of an animal with marijuana or hemp.” Let’s allow veterinarians to do what they are trained to do- provide recommendations for the safe and effective treatment of pets.
In a recent Q&A article from the San Jose Mercury News, Richter was asked by a reader about the efficacy of CBD medication for her dog. Richter, cautions pet-owners to be extra watchful when administering the dose. “The primary goal with using cannabis in pets is for there to be no side effects. It is never, ever acceptable for pets to act stoned in any way,” he warned. “If your pet is acting dazed, sleepy, wobbly or abnormal, discontinue cannabis immediately and contact your veterinarian.”
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Richter also cautions animal lovers about pets overdosing. “While appropriate use of cannabis in pets is safe, the effects of overdosing can be severe and potentially life-threatening. Never attempt to treat your pet with cannabis without appropriate guidance from an experienced veterinarian.”
In a perfect world, Richter says, there would be much more scientific studies demonstrating health benefits of cannabis. “However, the case reports and anecdotal evidence about the efficacy of cannabis medicine are already overwhelming,” he says.