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People Are Still Testing Medical Marijuana on Pets, Despite Limited Research

The jury is still out on whether cannabis is harmful or beneficial to animals.

by Chris Moore

Given the wide range of medical benefits of cannabis in humans, it may not come as a surprise that people are exploring using marijuana to treat their pets. A number of marijuana-derived remedies for pets have come onto the market recently, claiming to treat illnesses ranging from arthritis to seizures to cancer. The majority of these products contain CBD, not THC, so there are no concerns about getting pets stoned out of their minds.

TreatWell is one company selling cannabis tinctures that can be dropped into an animal's mouth or added to its food. The company says that these tinctures can help treat anxiety, poor appetite, pain, inflammation, seizures, kidney and liver problems, cancer and glaucoma. "What we find is a lot of the animals are coming to us when there are no other options and pharmaceuticals haven't worked for that animal," said TreatWell co-founder Alison Ettel. "They're at that last resort, and cannabis is really good for those types of situations."

Although many pet owners have reported seeing an improvement in their pets' health after giving them medical marijuana, veterinarians are hesitant to recommend the drug. There is little to no scientific data showing whether cannabis is helpful to pets, or whether it is even safe. Because marijuana is still federally prohibited, research on cannabis and animals is difficult and expensive.

Veterinarians are also legally prohibited from prescribing cannabis as a treatment, even in states like California where marijuana is legal. "Our hands really are tied," said Ken Pawlowski, 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."


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Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.



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