Marijuana Use for Pets?: CBD Products Offer Safe, Legal Options
Jun 08, 2017 05:06PM
By Mary Oquendo
The human medical field is finally legitimizing the use of medical marijuana to treat chronic illnesses and disease. More and more states have programs authorizing medical marijuana dispensaries for specific medical and palliative purposes. Has this same approach been taken with pets experiencing some of the same painful and chronic ailments?
As of now, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has not yet taken an official stand; however, it is under “discussion”. For the most part, it is a moot point as veterinarians cannot legally prescribe medical marijuana because marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The goods news for suffering pet owners is there is a viable alternative that is readily available with an industry already created. Hemp is the same plant species as marijuana; they are both Cannabis sativa L. The difference lies in the variety. Hemp has been used historically in the manufacturing sector to make rope and textiles, while marijuana was bred for the intoxicating resinous glands that grow on the flowers and leaves.
Three Key Differences between Hemp and Marijuana
1. Hemp contains very little of the THC psychoactive chemical.
Hemp contains only trace amounts of the psychoactive component of the plant. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana, hence the Scheduled 1 Controlled Substance labeling from the DEA.
While THC has many medical benefits, it is not the only part of the plant that does. Both marijuana and hemp also produce CBD, or cannabidiol. CBD binds to a body’s endocannabinoid system through the CB1 and CB2 receptors found in every tissue. This system is connected to the brain, central nervous and peripheral systems; it maintains homeostasis within the body and is involved in neural activity, pain, memory, emotions, carcinogenesis and embryonic development.
Since these binders are found throughout the body, that accounts for the wide range of therapeutic properties and potential benefits. The medical benefits of CBD include help with conditions ranging from seizures to diabetes to pain management to arthritis to cancer. Dogs have the highest concentration of CB receptors of any mammal, which is why dogs are more sensitive to the effects of both THC and CBD.
2. Hemp is legal.
CBD is currently made into treats, oils, topical creams and capsules. But not all CBD products are created equally. As with any new booming market, some companies looking to cash in by producing it as cheaply as possible. They use industrial-grade hemp, grown for quantity using factory farming, including pesticides and fertilizers. On the other hand, there are companies dedicated to the well-being of ourselves and our pets that grow the plants organically and spend thousands on research and development of different strains to pinpoint specific chronic conditions.
“This is a growing, fluid field. There have been great strides in developing particular strains of hemp for specific ailments. Many varieties of hemp are like a fine wine. You can pair a precise strain to the corresponding condition. Or you can choose to go with a ripple. Your choice,” says Donna Walker, RVT, of South Bark in San Diego, California.
CBD products can be purchased online and in stores; they can be legally and safely transported across state lines. Buyers beware, however, as the pet industry is not well-regulated. It is imperative to research the companies to ensure we are getting what we pay for.
While both the live plants of hemp and marijuana are toxic to dogs and cats in any form, CBD derived from hemp is safe. Dosing is done based on the pet’s weight. THC from medical marijuana can accelerate a pet’s heart rate to a dangerous level; it should never be used without veterinary consultation. As with any substance, any pet can have an allergic response and go into anaphylactic shock. While a pet can overdose from medical marijuana, that is not the case with CBD.
“Despite the fact that dogs and cats have a more rapid digestive system, it still takes about an hour after eating to fully work. Be prepared for that so you do not give too much. This applies to yourself also if you medicate with CBD. The side effects of over medicating are simply sleepiness,” explains Walker.
We may never need to wait until the AVMA or the states to decide on the legalities on medical marijuana as long as CBD is available for our pets. Even though the cost of obtaining a quality product may seem high, it is a small price to pay to help manage our pet’s chronic or painful medical conditions.
Mary Oquendo is a Reiki master, advanced crystal master and certified master tech pet first aid instructor. She is the owner of Hands and Paws Reiki for All. She can be reached at HandsAndPawsReiki.com. See ad, page 56.