As the move for legalization of medical marijuana spreads across the country, some individuals are advocating for the same benefit for their beloved pets. With 23 states legalizing medical marijuana and four states passing laws allowing recreational use, advocates are now looking toward treating ailing dogs with cannabis.
One particular lobbyist in Fla. is fighting to get animals added to a proposed bill regarding medical marijuana, according to CBS. Lisa Miller’s three year old bulldog/labrador mix, Dinah, suffers from severe epilepsy. Miller is lobbying to get animals added to the bill on behalf of Dinah. Medical marijuana has been alleged to reduce or stop seizures, and without the dangerous side effects of prescribed synthetic medications.
Marijuana edibles for dogs have hit the market in California, geared toward ailing and elderly canines, for help with pain and inflammation, according to ABC and Quartz.
Wendy Mansfield swears by them. She was about to have her senior labrador mix put down due to sickness and pain, when she decided to give Kali a cannabis cookie from Auntie Dolores, an Oakland-based company that sells edible marijuana goods for humans and pets. Kali responded favorably and euthanization was postponed.
When most people think of marijuana, they tend to envision the rolled joint and believe it means getting high, but the cannabis plant can be broken down into multiple compounds. Auntie Dolores uses the cannabis stem, known as hemp, in making the animal treats. The stem is naturally low in THC, the chemical known for the euphoric effect, but contains CBD, the chemical that alleviates pain. Also, hemp is legal, whereas cannabis with THC is not necessarily legal and is still classified as a ‘drug’.
Veterinarians are skeptical about treating animals with cannabis, mostly because the THC can be toxic to them. Also there is not enough scientific evidence that CBD is beneficial to animals, but many veterinarians agree that more research should be done to find out whether cannabis could help animals.
Nevada Democrat, Tick Segerblom, proposed a bill in March to the state legislature that would allow medical marijuana to be prescribed to pets if a veterinarian agreed it would help alleviate symptoms of a chronic or debilitating medical condition, according to Reuters.
Since there is no verifiable proof that canine cannabis edibles can treat medical conditions, the FDA is cracking down on companies such as Auntie Delores, and Canna-Pet and Canna Companion, both of which are out of Washington, for making claims its products do just that. With no FDA regulation, hemp falls under the guidelines of a supplement.
Other cannabis advocates warn about the use of hemp, claiming most companies get its hemp from an industrial-grade source, which is lower in medicinal qualities. TreatWell, a San Francisco-based cannabis company, uses THC in its pet products because industrial- or food-grade hemp is low in cannabinoids. According to Quartz, multiple veterinarians agree the most effective medicinal cannabis comes from an array of cannabinoids.
Though the scientific evidence is lacking about any benefits from the use of medical marijuana in animals, research studies are either underway or being proposed. Few studies have shown that CBD is effective in treating epilepsy, inflammation and pain, according to ABC, and one study showed that CBD reduced seizures in rats, according to CBS.
A couple of veterinary colleges across the country and a pharmaceutical company are jumping into the research of cannabinoids’ effects on canines and horses. A previous study has already shown that mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have cannabinoid receptors.
Veterinarians warn against people giving their pets cannabis edibles without first speaking to their own vet. Hemp is unregulated and as such, does not have industry standards or guidelines for dosage. It can be dangerous to attempt to treat pets without professional advice.
It is important to note that animals getting into a human’s stash of marijuana, whether it is the plant or edibles, is highly poisonous and precautions should be taken to minimize the risk.
U.S. map of current marijuana legalization
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