A “Cannabis Raccoon” Just Joined a Rising Wave of Drugged Up Animals
Is legalization giving our furry friends a contact high?
Published on February 23, 2023

You’ve heard of Cocaine Bear — but what about a cannabis raccoon? The New York Times recently published a roundup of wild animals ingesting both human food and psychoactive substances, and it turns out the masked scavengers have a history of getting into weed stashes.

For an example, the NYT cited the 2018 case of a racoon that was rehabilitated by British Columbia’s Gibsons Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. A concerned citizen had reported the woozy creature, which they encountered in their backyard. Soon enough, the raccoon was getting drug tested — and came up positive for not just weed, but also benzodiazepines. No wonder it was looking a little under the weather!

Luckily, the furry fella had come to the right place, and was soon tucked away in a calm, warm room to sleep it off. (Note: With some notable exceptions, situating the user in a chill, safe setting is the preferred treatment, even for wild animals.)

But the furry lil' dude wasn’t content with being cooped up for long, even if it was clearly in its best interests for a hot minute.

“Suddenly he was alive and, you know, ‘Let me go home,’” co-founder of Gibsons Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Irene Davy told the NYT. “So we released him.”

So, this all sounds cute and all, but it’s actually not great that animals, be they wild or domestic, are experiencing negative fallout from eating our copious amounts of garbage. It’s kind of like that friend you have who blows weed smoke into their cat’s face and says the kitty enjoys it. It's kind of amusing to see the pet with the munchies after, but it's also a slap in the face to the concept of consent when it comes to taking drugs.

Davy said at the time that the raccoon’s situation likely came from consuming drug trash.

There are some signs that animals are getting higher than ever with the ever-so-gradual creep of cannabis legalization. New York City veterinarians, for example, have apparently been reporting ever-more doggos coming in stoned AF.

“It’s always been a little bit of a problem, but as of late, we are seeing a rise in cases now that marijuana has been legalized here,” Gabrielle Fadl, director of primary care at Bond Vet, commented in another recent NY Times article.

Don’t get too freaked out about Fido getting stoned on your daily walkabout. The majority of pets are just fine after accidentally (or otherwise …) consuming cannabis. However, the ingestion could cause some concern among owners:

“Though most dogs recover, the symptoms can be scary: Loss of balance and difficulty walking, nausea, sleepiness and even hallucinations,” the NYT noted. The biggest threat to a pup’s safety is the drop in body temperature and heart rate that can accompany a hearty high.

But back to the reefer raccoon. You can protect wildlife in your area by definitely not feeding drugs to animals, and also making sure that when you trash your joints, you’re doing so in a critter-safe receptacle. After all, our furry friends never asked you to puff, puff, pass.

Follow Caitlin on Instagram, and catch her Spanish-language podcast Crónica on Spotify and Mixcloud.

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Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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