Veterinarians in Canada are campaigning for medical cannabis laws to include dogs and cats. And to demonstrate their cause, members of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association brought dogs to Parliament Hill.
The vets are calling on MPs to do something about the omissions in the legalized regimes for cannabis.
Canada’s medical cannabis laws currently do not allow vets to prescribe the drug for pets. This despite anecdotal evidence and preliminary research suggesting that cannabidiol (CBD) could be beneficial in treating seizures, anxiety, pain, arthritis, inflammation, and other disorders in cats and dogs, as much as they do for humans.
Also, while the law requires cannabis packaging to include a warning that the product be kept out of children’s reach, there is no similar requirement to warn consumers about any potential harm to animals.
Can’t wait 3 years
According to the CAVCM’s president, Dr. Sarah Silcox, their group has been told that the exclusions were likely just a result of an oversight. They were also told that this oversight may be considered in a review of the Cannabis Act in three years.
Silcox and her colleagues, however, want a more immediate action to address the issue. She explained in an interview that their patients age much faster than humans do, so the issue is not something that can wait for a review in three years.
Silcox also noted that the government is currently reviewing regulations in preparation for adding oils and edibles to the list of legal cannabis products this fall. It would, therefore, take only a few little changes to add veterinarians to the list of medical practitioners who are authorized to prescribe medical cannabis and to have the term “patients” refer to both humans and certain domestic animals.
Unsafe administration of cannabis
Silcox pointed out that not only are veterinarians prohibited from legally prescribing cannabis for dogs and cats, they also cannot offer advice to pet owners with regard to suitable cannabis medication and proper dosage. Because of this, she said that pet owners are simply taking it upon themselves to administer the drug to their pets.
She added that people are even giving their cats and dogs cannabis products that are designed for human consumption. Meanwhile, some are also giving their pets cannabis medications that are marketed as suitable for pets but are from the unregulated market and are therefore not tested for safety and purity.
Border Security Minister Bill Blair said that the government is willing to talk to vets about the issue. But he added that the research needs to be more fully developed to ensure that cannabis can be administered in a healthy and safe way.
Another veterinarian, Dr. Ian Sandler, argued that the problem on cannabis now being secretly given to pets without veterinary guidance will only get worse once cannabis-infused edibles become legal. He predicts that if this new law is implemented, there will be a profound increase in harmful ingestion by pets.