Do Animals Benefit From Medical Cannabis?

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Pets, Vets, And Cannabis

Currently in the United States, there is now 29 states showing the value of medical cannabis through medicinal legalization. Eight states and the District of Columbia have gone even further in regulated legalization for all adults 21 and older into law. What does this mean: One in five Americans now live in a state where cannabis is legal for adults 21 and older. One in five. The ASPCA reports a pet ownership rate in the US of thirty-seven percent and a look around in the cannabis community shows how many are animal lovers. But no state allows pet doctors to prescribe or recommend cannabis use for animals, meanwhile, federal law still views cannabis as a drug with no medicinal value and outlaws it under any condition. However, providers in states where medical cannabis laws are passed, they can recommend it to qualifying patients without fear of prosecution.

Cannabis and hemp based medicines work so efficiently because of the endocannabinoid system, present in all humans and many animals as well. This system consists of a series of receptors throughout the body that are configured only to accept cannabinoids, especially tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

In recent years there has been a lot research on the benefits of cannabis for people in treatment of illnesses with conditions such as muscle spasms, seizures, chronic pain, nausea from cancer and poor appetite to name a few. PETA has agreed on the use of medical cannabis for pets. On their website, the animal advocacy group says: “Human caregivers have the right to speak for their animal companions and to explore alternative treatments to ease pain and suffering.” For canines, an estimated 1 to 5% of all dogs can suffer from either symptomatic or idiopathic seizures. Symptomatic seizures are typically caused by abnormalities that exist inside or outside of the brain (e.g., encephalitis, head trauma, metabolic health problems, lead poisoning).

In Minneapolis, Minnesota -Dr. Ilo Leppik has dedicated his career to searching for ways to improve treatment for seizures that afflict those with epilepsy, in his quest, he has come to believe in the healing power of cannabis for epilepsy playing a key role in getting Minnesota’s medical cannabis law passed in 2014. Now Dr. Leppik is pushing to amend Minnesota’s medical cannabis law to allow veterinarians to recommend the treatment for animals. Not only could expanding the law help dogs, but it might also help humans, he argues. The change would open the door for researchers like Leppik to test the effects of cannabis on dogs with epilepsy, which could eventually help lead to a breakthrough for humans. In an interview, Dr. Leppik told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that dogs have higher rates of epilepsy than humans do and how a cannabis pill could do for canines what it’s done for humans.

Stephen Katz, the New York State assemblyman who is also a veterinarian, has teamed up with the University of Pennsylvania’s school of veterinary medicine to conduct clinical trials of Therabis, a trio of hemp-based powders he created for anxiety, mobility and itching.

Hemp seeds are an amazing source of nutrients for many different types of birds. Not only that, but they just love the taste. And was even said, “Canaries won’t sing without it.” That was what the bird seed companies testified before the US Congress in 1937. Due to that testimonial, sterilized hemp seeds were imported for use in commercial birdseed mix even though hemp itself was illegal.

The legal access for medical cannabis in Canada was first provided in 1999. For pets, the protocol is different since there is no clear policy or set of rules that are being implemented as of yet. At the Pacifico dispensary, you can buy CBD products for your pets, as long as there is proper documentation of pet’s illness. Owners are not able to purchase the products for personal consumption without a medical card.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports on the success for Phoenix, a 20-year-old Paso Fino horse in southern California. Before resorting to euthanizing Phoenix, the owner, Becky Flowers fed the horse cannabis. After all, Flowers herself had found medical cannabis to be a more effective analgesic than the medication she had been prescribed for pain associated with spinal spurs, arthritis, and several recent wrist surgeries. “Cannabis offers more relief to me than Norco, so why wouldn’t it also help Phoenix?” she reasoned. Within an hour of ingesting a small amount of cannabis, Phoenix was walking, eating, and drinking, according to Flowers. She boils the cannabis plant, then makes the extract into a butter that she feeds the horse once a day.

To understand the effect of cannabis on animals, it helps to know a little of the science. If you’re considering medical cannabis for your pet, here are some important points you want to keep in mind. According to Oakland-based veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter, cannabis can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions, one key difference with animals is that it’s very easy to inadvertently give too much cannabis to your pets as they are more sensitive to it than people are. Whether you live in a prohibition state or not, it’s okay to talk to your vet about cannabis medicine. The conversation has to start somewhere, and even if your veterinarian knows next to nothing about cannabis – that’ll change if enough people start asking. Dr. Gary Richter is the owner and medical director of two award-winning veterinary hospitals in Oakland, California and has teamed up with Green Flower Media to provide great information on cannabis for pets.

Jason Barker
About Jason Barker 35 Articles
• New Mexico medical cannabis patient and activist • Grass roots organizer with LECUA Patients Coalition of New Mexico CERTIFICATIONS • Exercise Specialist Certificate for Personal Training / Life Coaching / Sport Nutrition • International Mountain Bike Association- National Mountain Bike Patrol • USA Cycling Coach • Bike Patrol-Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization; Columbus, OH — 2005 -2010 • Bike Patrol-IMBA National Mountain Bike Patrol; Lee County, FL —2007-2008 • Youth Cycling Coach-Savage Hill Cycling Team; Westerville, OH — 2004-2005 • Isle of Palms Police Dept. - Beach Patrol — 1997 • Open Water Rescue Professional / Beach Patrol / EMT ; Hilton Head Is., SC 1994-1997