Although many veterinarians advocate for using medicinal marijuana to treat injured pets, no states allow vets to prescribe cannabis. But that could change thanks to Ash Kalra (D) - an LA Assemblyman who has introduced legislation that would provide animals with access to medical marijuana.
Kalra says the legislation is about helping vets provide the best care for their four-legged patients without having to worry about losing their jobs.
"Right now, there is no guidance for veterinarians as for what they are able to do, so basically they are at risk of losing their license if they discuss cannabis with their patient owners," Kalra told LA's KABC 7.
And there's good reason to believe that marijuana could be a breakthrough for veterinary science. A recent study from Cornell University found that over 80 percent of dogs with osteoarthritis and multi-joint pain experienced dramatic improvements to their conditions thanks to cannabis. A similar study is currently being conducted on cats as well.
All of that is good news for Dr. Tim Shu - Founder of VETCBD, which produces cannabis tinctures for pets.
"The traditional medications—while they can be very effective—it doesn't work for all pets, and so a lot of the time we need to look at other sources of potential medical benefit," Shu said.
As his company's name suggests these medications are made from CBD and as such don't contain THC.
"So there's no high to it. It's purely medicinal."
Veterinarian Gary Richter says this lack of psychoactive compounds in pet medication is important, as too much THC can be dangerous and unsettling for pets. Richter added that it's especially dangerous for pet owners to purchase cannabis from a dispensary and share it with their furry friends since the crop wasn't grown for pet consumption. He says that he has personally witnessed those good intentions go wrong.
"I have had people carry their dogs in because they were so stoned they could not walk."
Acknowledging that people are already giving their pets cannabis Richter veterinarians need greater ability to be included in the conversation.
"If cannabis is going to be available to pet owners to use for their pets it is critically important that we be involved in the discussion, not only to make sure that the medicine is effective, but also to keep these animals safe."
And the best way to do that might be developing a for-pets-only line of medical marijuana products.
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