Medical Marijuana & Pets

By: Hunter Calvert

Cannabis products have gained legal traction in recent years regarding their effective medicinal use in treating depression, anxiety, arthritis, and cancer symptoms.  In addition to aiding human illnesses, new research suggests that these natural remedies can effectively treat common health issues in household pets.

Cannabinoids are a group of chemical compounds derived from the marijuana

plant. The name “cannabinoid” is additionally used to describe the receptors in our brain, which are also found in the brains of many animal species. The receptors cause an organism to react emotionally and physically to this chemical group, and these cannabinoids can be combined and isolated to create specific medical remedies.

Medicinal cannabis is a brand new scientific art. The first state to legalize medical marijuana was California in 1996. Since then, 28 states have followed in similar legal suit. In these states, the use of medical marijuana is permitted, though marijuana possession is classified as a Schedule One federal offense. Hence, research for medical marijuana is tricky and limited to legal states, further stunting the budding medical field of cannabis.

Of these 28 states, 17 have legalized cannabidol, often abbreviated as CBD. CBD is a chemical compound found within cannabis that a FDA report found to treat “age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases,” as well as suppress stroke and trauma. Moreover, CBD treats “neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.” CBD is separate from its psychotropic “high”-inducing cannabinoid cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD does not employ any form of drug-induced euphoria in the patient.

A common medical cannabis remedy is the “high CBD, low THC” product, and it is this medicinal combination that some veterinarians believe can have some significantly beneficial effects on unwell animals and pets.

In a Leafly.com interview conducted by Haley Fox with Colorado veterinarian Dr. Rob Silver and California veterinarian Dr. Greg Richter, Silver and Richter discuss the slippery slope that is medical marijuana, as well as its effects on pets.


Veterinarians, even in legal states, do not hold the jurisdiction to prescribe a Schedule One drug to a customer or their pet. However, Dr. Silver states that the conversation can still be had, carefully, with their clients.

“As far as our First Amendment freedom of speech to speak directly about this. If we’re not giving medical advice — if we’re giving educational information — it’s a much easier situation,” Silver said.

So Dr. Richter, in only offering educational information, was allowed to state the benefits of CBD products within the interview.

“Cannabis has proven highly effective in treating ailments — including conditions such as anxiety, stress, arthritis, seizures, and even cancer symptoms — in dogs and cats, Richter said. “It’s really just an amazingly versatile drug when used properly.”

Cat-owner and South junior Justis Lake and his family have been, for the last two months, aiding their elderly cat’s age-related conditions with CBD products.

“My cat’s name is Momo, and she is a Himalayan-ragdoll mix,” Lake said. “She turns 19 years old on May 3.”

At such an old age, Momo will naturally be confronted with physical and emotional problems, and it is these age-induced issues that Lake and his family intend to ease with CBD.

“In her elder years, her arthritis has been acting up more, and we were looking for a natural remedy to that, as opposed to prescription painkillers,” Lake said.  “We purchased some CBD from a store called Evergreen on Willamette St.”

Evergreen is a strictly-medical cannabis store that specializes in high-CBD, low-THC products. Since his family began implementing CBD into Momo’s daily diet, Lake and his family have noticed significant advancements.

“She is moving much more freely,” Lake said. “She goes outside more now and can walk further, so there has definitely been a clear improvement in her mood and her pain levels.”

Lake had advice to those considering CBD for their pet, stating that “cannabis has really gotten a stigma on it from a lot of people — that it’s kind of an evil substance.”

“I just want to alert people to its effectiveness, especially when it’s compared to a lot of prescription pills that I believe are actually a lot more detrimental to the health than a natural substance such as CBD,” Lake stated.

CBD and other cannabinoid products are still a developing field of medicine, and research in these areas is sufficient, yet extremely limited compared to the vast research that has been done on narcotics throughout history.

However, despite its federal denunciation and legal restrictions, it seems as though cannabis may be a promising and helpful tool for the future of our furry friends.

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