Concerns have been raised that without legal guidelines about feeding weed to pets, animal owners are resorting to “Dr Google” for medical advice.
And a proposed new Bill to guide licensed California veterinarians in their dealings with clients about administering marijuana to their four-legged friends has been stalled at the starting blocks.
State assembly member, Ash Kalra, says there are no guidelines regarding the use of cannabis as a medical treatment for pets and proposed a Bill that would instruct the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) to enforce such regulations. The Bill would allow licensed veterinarians the right to discuss marijuana as a legal medication for pets and would protect them from any disciplinary action.
Supported by the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), the Bill however failed by 4–2 votes and Ash Kalra will now have to find more support to see the bill being given the go-ahead.
The Board, in its opposition to the Bill, expressed concerns about the wording which says that while veterinarians may discuss cannabis treatments, it fails to state that veterinarians may recommend the use of cannabis. Furthermore, the Board wants to be given the authority to take disciplinary action against veterinarians who recommend dangerously high dosages of marijuana.
Beware “Dr Google”
On the other hand, the CVMA points out that pet-owners are turning to “Dr Google” for advice because veterinarians cannot legally discuss the use of cannabis with their clients.
Valerie Fenstermaker, the CVMA’s executive director, says veterinarians and not “Dr Google” should be making medical recommendations. Information obtained on the internet could be erroneous and detrimental to the health of pets.
Another drawback to the issue is that not much research has been, or is being, conducted into the effects of marijuana on our four-legged friends because of federal law which classifies pot as a Schedule One drug.
It is for that very reason that Ash Kalra is promoting the Bill. He is calling for research to be conducted to better guide regulations.
Anecdotal evidence of weed for pet ailments
Despite this setback, there is documented proof of the increasing number of pet owners turning to cannabis as a solution to their pet ailments, as is a growing wave of interest in the weed by licensed veterinarians.
Take, for example, Canna Companion, a Washing State-based company that has two products for cats and dogs manufactured from whole-hemp plants. Then there is Vet Online Supply, an online distributor for veterinary hospitals and mobile services, which has launched its own marijuana-based product line for pets, with plans to release more products in the future.
Vet Online Supply’s director, Matt Scott, points out that cannabis is used in the treatment of a number of medical conditions and is non-toxic. He says the pet market is changing and that cannabis is gaining acceptability.
Cannabis was widely used in the USA until the 1930s
Few readers may know that cannabis was widely used and legal in America in the 1930s.
Cheap tinctures were available through pharmacies and physicians and were used to treat a wide range of symptoms, including seizures, arthritis and pain associated with menstruation. But 1937 saw the introduction of a one dollar charge for every dosage when the Marijuana Stamp Act was approved in 1937. Then, in 1970, marijuana was declared illegal when the Controlled Substances Act placed the weed in the same category as heroin.
Despite the fact that there is much evidence to support the medical viability of feeding weed to your pet, veterinarians are still reluctant to discuss its use with clients because they are restricted to do so legally.
Cannabis is a Schedule One drug, according to federal law, and veterinarians who openly support the use of cannabis in the treatment of animals can be classified as acting with criminal intent, in terms of the law. So, the issue must be resolved before veterinarians can join the legalized Californian marijuana mainstream, and Ash Kalra’s Bill could go a long way to achieving exactly that end-goal.
Professor Dawn Boothe of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine agrees. She says for veterinarians to join the marijuana brigade, they must be protected from prosecution for promoting or prescribing cannabis-based products to their patients.
Professor Boothe, who is also the director of the college’s Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory, says once that hurdle is overcome veterinarians will not hesitate to recommend marijuana products which, she points out, are “incredibly safe”.