How dosing man's best friends with medicinal marijuana could potentially help health issues

The merits of cannabidiol (CBD) have been repeatedly shown in the short amount of time research has been available, potentially offering help for physical ailments such as arthritis, epilepsy and nausea to mental issues like anxiety and addiction.

And a growing number of CBD recipients in cannabis-legal states are turning out to be man's best friend. The American Pet Products Association reported that Americans spent $69.51 billion on their furry friends last year, and $17 billion in veterinary care.

With that sort of financial investment, it's hardly surprising to see pet owners committed to finding alternative medicines for their family members. Perhaps it could help your pet whose breed is prone to hip dysplasia or arthritis. Or it might help your dog who still gets separation anxiety whenever they're left alone.

But a major impediment to mainstreaming CBD for pets are the risks for pet doctors. Veterinarians register with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) once they become licensed. If a vet suggests cannabis as an alternative, their registration is in jeopardy.

Even in cannabis-pioneering Colorado, vets are unable to recommend the product due to Schedule I status and lack of peer-reviewed research. Denver's Westword chronicled a local clinic where veterinarian Casara Andre is bold enough to have her advice be seen as "harm reduction." The phrasing allows for clients to independently decide on options based off of anecdotal information rather than medical advice.

"Our clients ask us about this all the time, regardless of what camp they're in," Andre tells Westword. "Either they want to use it in their animals or they're totally against it, but they're always asking us, as veterinarians, what our opinion is."

In terms of pet products, there are currently two categories. Hemp-based CBD, which is readily available online and in a few stores, and THC-active goods, which can only be purchased in legal recreational and medicinal stores.

Hemp-based CBD can help with numerous ailments and is currently allowed by the DEA. But aiding a pet with an aggressive cancer or severe seizures like idiopathic epilepsy could be better treated by a THC-active CBD product.

To make matters even more difficult, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board does not allow companies and stores to market products for pets. As the Stranger's Lester Black points out, this makes information scant for pet owners to safely dose possible products for their pets. ♦

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