Pets and Marijuana: Part 2
Does Big Brother Care About Pot Meds for Pets?
American pets are an integral part of our lives, many people admit to allowing their pets to sleep with them, and keeping the dog off the sofa is all but a lost cause. If Ralph Lauren advertisements sport pedigreed pets lounging on high-end leather wing chairs, who are we to argue with the gentrified tweed lifestyle? And when it comes to the Queen’s corgi companions, even James Bond approves of them tagging along.
Pets are now welcomed in places previously off limits. California recently passed legislation allowing dogs to accompany their al fresco dining humans in pet-friendly restaurants and it is considered inhumane to leave a pup unattended in a stifling hot car while an owner sips a cappuccino in a cafe.
But what about feeding your dogs or cats marijuana to help alleviate their suffering? Is that considered compassionate or illegal? As our beloved pets begin to age they often exhibit disease-related symptoms similar to humans. They may develop arthritis, epilepsy, cancerous tumors and signs of intractable pain.
What do animal rights groups advise on the issue of pets and marijuana as medicine? Ingrid Newkirk of PETA told Time, “Our position is that anything that can help animals … should be given the same consideration that humans in pain are given.”
Yet if scientific research is not keeping pace with the new mindset of pet owners and animal advocates, are Americans running afoul of federal drugs laws by treating their pets with cannabis-based medicines?
Does Big Brother at the DEA care about cannabis-based medications for pets? If so, how would the government fund the possible prosecution of compassionate and well-meaning pet owners? In the words of Deep Throat, “Follow the money.”
In December 2014 the U.S. Congress passed the cromnibus spending bill which essentially defunded the Department of Justice from prosecuting medical marijuana patients. If the government cannot pursue medical marijuana patients, it’s difficult to imagine the government pursuing pets on marijuana medications.
While anecdotal stories of seriously ill pets benefiting from marijuana abound, how do veterinarian experts weigh in on this topic and when might pet owners expect to see medically approved and clinically tested supplements and pharmaceuticals for their pets?
For many years the American Veterinarian Medical Association was mum on the topic of medical marijuana and pets. However, an article on the AVMA’s website asks for scientific studies to be conducted on pets and marijuana. But has anyone stepped up to heed the call?
Dr. Steve Katz, a doctor of veterinary medicine, is a New York State Assemblyman and a medical marijuana advocate. He is currently developing a line of pet supplements using non-psychoactive cannabidiol. Dr. Katz’ new company has funded an independent clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania to study cannabis and joint mobility in dogs. His upcoming line of medicinal pet products will have a variety of proprietary formulas and delivery systems which he estimates will be available within the next six months.
I also asked Dr. Duncan Lascelles professor and expert on small animal pain management at North Carolina State University about the hypothetical funding and timeline of scientific research on marijuana prescription pharmaceuticals for pets. As a clinical researcher, his estimation is 10 years for full FDA approval, with an estimated cost of $10 million to $15 million. Unfortunately, the average dog life span is only 10-12 years, so most dogs today would never benefit from such research.
While pet owners wait for empirical science to verify efficacy, there will be companies to fill the void and provide cannabis products for pet owners. Canna-Pet™ out of Washington State is hoping to capture a larger market share by expanding into Colorado. In California, expect to pay $22.00 for a small pouch of Treat-ibles infused with just one milligram of CBD per biscuit.
Regarding future sales, statistically, odds seem to favor success in providing medicinal cannabis pet products. Currently, 43 million American households own 70 million dogs. And annual spending on pets in 2014 was at all-time high of $58 billion dollars. With those numbers, it is logical to assume that there will be a marketplace for infused edibles and pet pharmaceuticals just as there is for glittering Swarovski crystal collars for pampered pooches.
Intentionally dosing and monitoring your pet with cannabis as medicine is a conscious choice. However, what if your dog eats your pot brownie? In my next article, we will explore accidental ingestion of marijuana by your dog and whether you should have your vet’s phone number on speed dial.
In the meantime, “Keep Calm and Carry On” by watching the Queen and her corgis hang with Bond, James Bond.