Nevada Considers Medical Marijuana for Pets

In this divisive political climate, there is one statement that is guaranteed to be both inoffensive and accurate: Americans love their pets. We dress our dogs, carry our kitties in embarrassing devices, and we even take our pets scuba diving. Now, one Nevada lawmaker wants to take this love to another level and give our pets something that humans have been fighting over for decades: medical marijuana.

Introduced by Democratic Sen. Tick Segerblom, SB 372 is a bill aimed at overhauling Nevada’s medical marijuana laws, including a provision that would allow veterinarians to recommend medical marijuana.

“People these days believe that marijuana can cure everything under the sun, from the inability to eat if you’re terminally ill to problems with your nervous system.” Segerblom told the Columbus Dispatch. “So if your dog has a nerve disease or uncontrollable tremors, this might be able to help it.”

Emphasis is on the word might, because while there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that marijuana may help Fido with his fibromyalgia; there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence yet to back up that claim. This raises a cause for concern among veterinarians like Dr. Robert Silver, president of the veterinary botanical medical association.

“There needs to be a lot more research and education taking place before we introduce this to pets,” Silver told ABC News. Silver went on to say that pet owners should proceed with caution when administering medical marijuana to pets as some studies suggest that certain chemicals in marijuana may be toxic to animals.

Though legislation has yet to catch up with the concept of medical marijuana for pets, some companies already have alternative treatments on the market for pet owners to purchase. If you’re intrigued by this treatment option, consult your veterinarian; earlier this month, the FDA sent warning letters to companies selling CBD supplements, criticizing them for specious claims and deceptive products.

In February 2015, the FDA tested several CBD pet supplements and found that many of the products only contained trace amounts of CBD; one CannaPet dog biscuit actually tested negative for CBD. Between questionable claims and ingredients, the market for cannabis-based pet medicine is not where it needs to be.

Now aside from giving kitties cannabis, Segerblom’s bill is actually packed with a lot of other reforms to Nevada’s medical marijuana laws. The bill includes provisions that would require dispensary workers to undergo special training, amend existing marijuana DUI laws, and it would even protect employees against employer retaliation for using medical marijuana outside of work.

Although the research behind cannabis-based pet medicine is a bit lacking, there is clearly an interest in the market. Bills like SB 372 will open the door to more research. And if the science is solid, the imagination goes wild: Americans spent $58 billion on their pets in 2014, but how much more will they spend when medical marijuana becomes an option?

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