California Approves Medical Cannabis Recommendations for Pets
If Governor Gavin Newsom signs the law into effect, veterinarians will be able to recommend cannabis treatments for animal companions.
Published on September 1, 2022

California legislature approved a bill which removes penalties for veterinarians who recommend cannabis medicine to pet owners to treat their furry, feathered, and scaled friends. If Governor Gavin Newsom signs the legislation, vets will no longer have to face legal blowback for promoting THC, CBD, and other cannabinoid-based medications.

According to a fact sheet published by the office of Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who sponsored the bill, AB 1885 will also direct the state’s Veterinary Medical Board to “establish guidelines for veterinarians to recommend the use of cannabis on an animal patient,” similar to the state guidelines for human cannabis patients.

The legislation would also clear the way for state-regulated cannabis products meant for use by pets. Such authorized items will now be able to include clear medical indications for pets on their labels, a boon for pet owners seeking clarity when it comes to the medicine needed for their animal companions.

“I can see why people have concerns about it because of the lack of research,” Jen Seo of cannabis distributor Nabis told Marketwatch. “But when you get credible veterinarians and doctors advocating for it and supporting it, it further legitimizes the use of cannabis for pets.”

In 2018, California passed a bill which authorized vets to discuss cannabis use with animal guardians — but explicitly banned “licensed veterinarian from dispensing or administering cannabis or cannabis products.” This new bill, if signed into effect, gives veterinarians the authority to recommend specific cannabis products.

Several credible studies suggest positive effects of certain uses of cannabis for animals. Colorado State University investigated the effectiveness of CBD on epileptic dogs with encouraging results — 89% of the canines dosed with the cannabidinol-infused oil showed a reduction in seizures. At Cornell University, veterinary scientists found that dogs with osteoarthritis showed an increase in physical activity, with owners reporting the appearance of lower levels of pain in their doggos.

“Pets and their owners deserve to have access to products that can improve their lives, and veterinarians should be allowed to provide guidance on such products,” Tim Shu, veterinarian and founder of a company that sells therapeutic cannabis, VETCBD, told Forbes when AB 1885 was unanimously cleared by a State Assembly committee in April. "We need to shed the shroud of prohibition and embrace science if we’re to embark on a path of progress.”

California legislators have made a last-minute push to get a series of cannabis-oriented bills onto Gov. Newsom’s desk before the end of this legislative session. Other initiatives awaiting the governor’s signature include a bill that would bar jurisdictions from banning cannabis delivery services, one that would open the door to inter-state cannabis businesses, and another that would ban workplace discrimination based on an employee's or prospective employee's off-the-clock cannabis use.

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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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