A bill in the legislature of the State of Nevada was introduced this week that would legalize the use of marijuana in the treatment of animals.
The bill is sponsored by Democrat Tick Segerblom. It would let owners obtain the drug for their animals if a veterinarian confirmed it “may mitigate the symptoms or effects” of a chronic or debilitating medical condition.
The same bill has provisions for the use of medical marijuana by people.
There isn’t a lot of research about the use of marijuana in animals, although there are stories of owners using it to alleviate illness symptoms in their pets – usually as a last resort when traditional therapies haven’t helped.
Physiologically speaking, dogs have a high concentration of THC receptors in their brains (THC is an active ingredient in marijuana). As a consequence, dogs are more susceptible to marijuana and this can lead to a toxic dose. There is evidence that in states such as Colorado, which has already legalized marijuana use, more dogs are being admitted for treatment because of marijuana toxicity after they’ve eaten their owner’s supply.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, not surprisingly, does not have an official stance on the use of medical marijuana. Since research into the topic isn’t ‘evidence based,’ the Association merely suggests that vets make treatment decisions based on sound clinical judgment that stay in compliance with the law.
The Association says that even in states where medical marijuana is legal, it is still a Class I narcotic under federal law which means vets are not legally allowed to prescribe it; meaning that in essence the Association is saying that vets shouldn’t prescribe marijuana unless federal law is changed and they are satisfied that there is a clinical reason for doing so.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand