Medical marijuana has been legalized, in some form, in 30 states across the U.S., but those laws only apply to humans. The legislation that allows doctors to prescribe patients marijuana to treat their ailments says little to nothing about using cannabis or CBD to treat pets. As a result, veterinarians have remained reticent to even discuss cannabis-related solutions to owners regarding their pets.
Dr. Jeffrey Powers is the chair of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s subcommittee on cannabinoids. He told Reuters that vets are fearful engaging in cannabis-related treatment could jeopardize their professional license with federal authorities. In fact, many vets have been instructed by their state veterinary boards not to even mention it as a treatment option, according to Reuters.
That includes a cannabis-friendly state like California. In a statement, the state’s Veterinary Medical Board told Reuters “veterinarians are in violation of California law if they are incorporating cannabis into their practices.” While conversations have started about introducing a bill in California that would legalize vets including cannabis as a treatment option since early this year, progress appears to be slow moving.
Instead, owners are currently responsible themselves for using cannabis or CBD to treat their pet. Colorado State University veterinary medicine researchers surveyed 1,068 dog owners nationwide this years, and nearly 80 percent admitted they purchased hemp and/or cannabis products for their pets. In addition, pet owners reported that pot products were nearly 44 percent more effective for a dog’s pain relief and 41 percent more effective for anxiety than conventional medicines,” writes Reuters.
Last year, Project CBD interviewed Dr. Gary Richter, DVN, who is an integrative medicine veterinarian based in Oakland and believes that cannabis is part of the holistic approach to animal medicine. He discussed how those interested in treating their pets with cannabis products should proceed.
Related Story: How This Senior Dog Was Saved With Medical Marijuana
“If at all possible talk to a veterinarian,” Richter said. “Cannabis is medicine and its dosing should be carefully calculated. It’s important to know the concentration of THC and CBD in milligrams for one’s pet. Once you have that information, you can look for a product that suits your pet’s needs. When in doubt, err on the side of under-dosing because you can always slowly increase the dose and monitor the effect.”
Because CBD and cannabis products are readily available for patients to use on their pets, and pet owners report them being more “effective” and are probably cheaper than going through a vet, there isn’t the same activist push for legislation. Until that happens, not much will change, as both the federal government and state veterinary boards oppose its usage on animals. There are vets fighting on behalf of rescheduling cannabis for pets other than California, but human usage has taken the priority in cannabis legalization activism for now.