After years of discussion, red tape and court battles, patients are now able to receive strains of marijuana that are non-euphoric but which can help relieve some medical conditions. It can now be prescribed by doctors for seizure disorders, cancer, severe muscle spasms and certain other illnesses.
However, dog and cat owners faced no such hurdles.
Several pet stores and websites are now offering pet products that contain cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive element of hemp and marijuana that can calm pets and provide relief from pain, swelling and arthritis.
“Like anything in the cannabis space, education is a key component to get people to understand what we’re about, what we’re doing and what their preconceptions of cannabis might be,” said Graham Sorkin, director of business development at Denver company, Mary’s Medicinals,
They have been making cannabis patches for humans in Denver, where marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational purposes, and have now developed a gel pen that dispenses a measured dose of cannabidiol for dogs.
Treatibles, a company in California, also makes chew treats that contain the same substance.
The introduction of the marijuana based pet medicines has sparked strong debate.
The manufacturers say that their products are legal and because of the type of cannabis used in the Mary’s Medicinals gel, it is classified as hemp instead of marijuana under federal law and so it can be distributed in all 50 states.
Treatibles also states, “Our pet chews are nontoxic, plant-derived wellness chews infused with non-psychoactive hemp-derived CBD. This is NOT medical cannabis for dogs.”
However, many vets think otherwise.
Don Morgan, a retired veterinarian in Belleair Bluffs, Florida said “We do not have peer-reviewed scientific data to substantiate the use of medical marijuana in dogs at this time. There’s just not enough evidence to show anything.”
Morgan also noted that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration includes marijuana in its Class 1 category of drugs that it considers as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, and so veterinarians cannot prescribe cannibinoids.
The American Veterinary Medical Association does not have an official policy on medical marijuana products for pets. It is quoted as saying “As you know, medications do not necessarily work the same in animals as they do people, which underscores the value of extensive studies done showing safety and efficacy and also the value of the FDA’s approval process for drugs used in animals, There are possibilities of adverse reactions including toxicities and failure to treat the clinical condition at hand. Veterinarians making treatment decisions must use sound clinical judgment and current medical information and must be in compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations.”
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not approved cannabis for pets and testing of marijuana, whether for human or animal benefit, is difficult because of its status as a Class 1 controlled substance.
“We’d like to see more research done to see what the actual benefits are, how they would proceed, what the dosage would be, that it’s safe and beneficial,” said the veterinary association’s Michael San Filippo. “We’ve certainly seen a lot of evidence that it works, but without the science, we just don’t know.”
Cannabis plants contain many cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The pet products contain CBD, but no THC, the part that makes users feel high.
In the case of CBD Pet Care gel, the dosage is squirted onto the owner’s finger, and rubbed into the skin of the dog’s inner ear or any other exposed area of skin. The dosage is 1 milligram per 20 pounds, and can be given up to four times a day. Treatibles treats also contain about 1 mg of CBD.
The websites of manufacturers of pet cannabis products are full of testimonials from owners of dogs, cats and other pets that couldn’t eat, were crippled with pain or were so lethargic the owners were considering euthanizing them before the cannabis products reversed the symptoms.
“It’s a culture change,” said the Green Pet Shop’s Brian Wright “Stores are still a little hesitant to carry something with ‘cannabis’ or ‘hemp’ in the name, because for so long there was this stigma. For so long, we’ve overlooked the medicinal benefits. Active users absolutely swear by it.”
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