Pet Owners Treating Sick Animals With Marijuana
As more states legalize marijuana for humans, more pet owners are giving their animal companions cannabis-based extracts, ointments and edibles marketed to treat everything from arthritis and anxiety to seizures and cancer.
Most of these pet products, which are not 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.
But Veterinarians say there isn’t enough scientific data to show cannabis is safe and effective for treating animals. Although medical marijuana is legal in 28 states, it remains illegal under federal law, so there has been relatively little research into its potential medical benefits for humans or animals.
Veterinarians in California and other states are legally barred from prescribing or recommending cannabis. They risk losing their veterinary licenses if they do.
“Our hands really are tied,” said the President of the California Veterinary Medical Association. “Definitely we’re getting more questions from clients asking about it for their pets, but unfortunately we don’t have any answers for them.”
Despite the lack of scientific data or veterinary guidance, many pet owners are convinced cannabis has improved their animals’ health and well-being, based on their own observations.
San Francisco-based TreatWell Health is one of a growing number of companies marketing cannabis products for pets despite questions over their legality.
TreatWell sells cannabis tinctures, extracted from marijuana plants in Humboldt County, that can be added to food or dropped directly into an animal’s mouth. The co-founder works directly with clients and their pets, recommending different formulations based on the animals’ ailments.
TreatWell pet tinctures can help treat anxiety, poor appetite, pain, inflammation and seizures, as well as kidney and liver problems, cancer and glaucoma, according to its website. They also are used in end-of-life care.