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A Cannabis Cure-All for Your Pet? Proceed With Caution

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Watching a loved one suffer is stressful. Medical cannabis users say the drug alleviates levels of pain, but could it also help your sick furry friend?

Although many pet owners are already using the drug as medicine, experts warn it’s wise to take caution.

“The problem today is that there is no scientific data that supports the benefits of using cannabis products on pets and therefore, the medical claims are not evidenced based,” said Annemarie Del Mugnaio, Executive Officer with the Veterinary Medical Board.  “Veterinarians are treating a higher number of toxicity cases where dogs have come into contact with cannabis and ingested enough to cause them to become very ill.  We really have no idea what’s in the hemp/cannabis pet products to be able to confirm their intended use or benefits and these products are not FDA approved or regulated.”

According to the DCA Veterinary Medical Board, veterinarians in California cannot prescribe medical cannabis because it’s deemed a schedule I drug and licensees are prohibited from writing a prescription or recommendation for the drug. A veterinarian may be subject to disciplinary action for violating state or federal prescribing laws.

Meanwhile, a growing number of companies are marketing cannabis products for pets despite questions over legality, and pet owners are giving cannabis edibles and topical ointments to sick pets.

Most of these pet products, which aren’t regulated, contain cannabidiol or CBD, a chemical compound found in cannabis that doesn’t get pets or humans high. They contain little or no tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the cannabis compound known for its psychoactive effects.

Medicinal cannabis for pets is being sold as pet medicine at many licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.

The DCA is tasked to regulate both medical and recreational cannabis through the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR) and is responsible for issuing distribution, transportation, laboratory testing, and dispensary (sale) licenses beginning in 2018.

Medical cannabis is legal in 28 states, however, it remains illegal under federal law.

For updates on prescription medical cannabis for animals, or to check the license and license status of a Veterinarian, please call the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Veterinary Medical Board at (916) 515-5220, or visit their website at vmb.ca.gov.

For more information about the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, visit their website at bmcr.ca.gov.