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Cannabis for Animals: A Look Into Cannabis as Medicine for Pets

Cannabis for Animals: A Look Into Cannabis as Medicine for Pets

August 28, 2019

Veterinary medicine has historically lagged behind human medicine since its inception. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians are cautious creatures that often have not only a human as the owner to deal with but a patient that cannot speak and tell you how treatment is or isn’t working.

We also see less uniformity in regulations and practice acts in veterinary medicine compared to our human counterparts. What veterinary medicine and human medicine do have in common is the lack of education on the topic of cannabis as a legitimate medical therapy in veterinary school. We also see less interest in pharmaceutical companies wanting to invest in clinical studies for companion animals (cats and dogs).

Moreover, we see more conservative organized veterinary medicine, like the American Veterinary Medical Association, still holding on to outdated information and prohibition era beliefs surrounding cannabis, perpetuating false assertions that there is no evidence for safety or efficacy of cannabis products in animals (1). To the contrary we have hundreds, if not thousands, of articles in laboratory animal species, which technically includes dogs and cats, verifying the safety of cannabinoids at extremely high doses and therapeutic potential for numerous conditions.

Yet, the bias persists. However, the use and demand for cannabis products in veterinary medicine is growing rapidly, mainly by pet owner demand (2,3). 

There are some fundamental distinctions one must make on the topic of medical cannabis, and even specific terminology used when approaching medical cannabis as a valid medical therapy. The first distinction is between a “marijuana” plant versus a “hemp” plant. The hemp plant has much lower levels of THC (less than 0.3% by dry weight) and has found favor among veterinary professionals since there is a reduced risk of THC toxicity (7). This distinction is particularly important for recommendations made by veterinary professionals.

 California was the first state to pass legislation at the end of 2018 with AB2215 that allows veterinarians to discuss cannabis as a therapeutic option, but the legislation still prohibits veterinarians from prescribing, dispensing, or recommending marijuana or hemp products to animals.

Based on the materials of the article

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