Can Pets Benefit From Medical Marijuana?

The use of cannabis or marijuana, as it is more widely known, for medical purposes has been opened to the greater public in recent years.

Yes, one can say that more and more people are welcoming the idea, especially because of its benefits in easing Glaucoma, Tourette's syndrome, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and asthma to name a few.

But the research still yields conflicting results. However, the conversation is now moving toward its benefits not only to humans but also to those who cannot speak for themselves: our pets.

Pot For Pets? Medical Marijuana For Animals

Although the legalization of pot in 28 states is primarily for human use, more and more pet owners are now choosing to assist their ailing pets — from those with cancer or arthritis to those suffering from seizures — with the help of cannabis. Humans are looking to medical marijuana for pain management for their pets.

Animal rights group PETA may slowly be opening up to the idea too. PETA's website has published an article by Dr. Amanda Reiman, who is involved in marijuana reform in California and is herself a medical marijuana patient. She shared her experience of having a cat diagnosed with intestinal cancer.

"The cancer had caused her to lose a lot of weight, and she was having trouble sleeping," Reiman wrote. "I decided to mix a little cannabis oil in with her wet food and was astounded at the difference. She started acting like a kitten again, able to eat and play."

While there may be nothing wrong with using cannabis on pets for this very reason, groups like PETA and the ASPCA cannot endorse cannabis use for pets — well, at least not yet.

Research is still needed to prove the efficacy of medical marijuana on pets, and veterinarians cannot procure or prescribe pot. Owners like Reiman need to get the cannabis themselves.

Still, the question remains: is it safe for humans to use pot on their pets when cases of distressed pets that accidentally ingest discarded "pot brownies" have cropped up since the legalization of marijuana?

The Science of Cannabis

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two main components of cannabis, the very reason for the plant's popularity. THC is the property in cannabis that gives users that elevated state or "high" while CBD is the component that gives cannabis its medicinal potential without the psychoactive properties.

It is THC, with its mind-altering properties, that owners should beware of because dogs are highly sensitive to it. They do not react the same way humans do. Vets are open to talking to pet owners about using cannabis on their pets so as to avoid an overdose.

Literature on the use of marijuana, especially its medical significance and legalization, has been quite extensive over the years. With even more clinical trials set to take place, using the drug to treat diseases like cancer, the number of medical marijuana supporters is expected to grow.

It should be noted that cannabis laws vary from state to state and, as with most drugs, it should be used with caution.

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