Medical marijuana has become a widely accepted tool within the health community, and not just within the human sector. Studies have shown that animals, too, can benefit from the healing power of cannabis as well, and it’s now starting to become a viable option for veterinarians to utilize. While most animal doctors have yet to harness the power of cannabis, it appears California vets want to prescribe medical marijuana for pets following a first-of-its-kind study.
Jamie Peyton, a veterinarian at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, has been studying the effects of cannabis on animals over the past few months, with promising results.
The study, which included responses from 1,300 pet owners who have treated their animals with non-psychoactive oils like CBD, found that the effects of the cannabis helped treat anxiety, pain, nausea in their pets.
However, unlike typical medical doctors in California, it is illegal for veterinarians to prescribe cannabis solutions for pets under state law. But this could soon change with a passing of proposed bill AB 2215, which would “protect state-licensed veterinarians from disciplinary action for discussing the use of cannabis on animal patient clients.” The proposed legislation is sponsored by the California Veterinary Medical Association.
Unsurprisingly, the bill has been mired in controversy. Opponents of the bill believe there’s too much risk involved, and a potential marijuana ‘overdose’ could be toxic to pets. Also holding back the bill is marijuana’s lingering Schedule I status, which has made it difficult to attract funding for additional studies.
Not to mention the bill has met some obstacles early on. During a Wednesday meeting, a motion from the California Veterinary Medical Board to support the bill failed after a 4-2 vote. The bill needed five votes to get the recommendation, which will force Assemblymember Ash Kalra, the creator of the legislation, to work with the board in order to secure the fifth vote.
However, optimism remains for the bill to eventually be passed. Supporters argue that there is a need for alternative medication along with additional knowledge on the subject. According to Valerie Fenstermaker, the executive director of the Veterinary Medical Associations, doctors are already receiving inquiries regarding medicinal cannabis for their pets.
“Veterinarians should be making these recommendations, not all these other people,” said Fenstermaker. “Some veterinarians have expressed that they receive questions daily about this.”
Being that California is one of the more progressive states when it comes to cannabis, it could only be a matter of time before detractors of AB 2215. Keep in mind, medicinal marijuana was legalized in California back in 1996, and was also met with scrutiny, due to a similar lack of knowledge.
As it stands, there are not many resources for pet owners to learn about the potential benefits of cannabis use. That’s why this bill is so important.
“There is nothing out there for them,” Peyton said. “Right now, they are on their own.”