Veterinary marijuana? Let's talk about it

Many people around the world are using marijuana and cannabidiol as a medicine for their dogs, cats and others. They use it because they care their pets. It is time to join the debate and to discuss dos and don'ts.

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United States have been chipping away at the federal prohibition on medical marijuana since 1996, when California voters approved a referendum allowing patients to receive a doctor’s recommendation to grow or possess marijuana for personal use. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have since passed similar laws permitting marijuana to be used medicinally in people. And in 2012, Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana use.

Since 2011, some 300 people have told Dr. Douglas Kramer about having experimented with medical marijuana for a pet. Prior to that, Dr. Kramer had worked at a small animal practice in California, where clients would occasionally admit to giving marijuana to an animal companion for a medical reason. He now runs his own mobile practice in the Los Angeles area focused exclusively on pain management and palliative and hospice care.
Dr. Kramer didn’t think much of marijuana's potential to help animals until his pet Siberian Husky developed terminal cancer.
“Nikita was wasting away, and she’d stopped eating,” he recalled. “I’d exhausted every available pharmaceutical pain option, even steroids. At that point, it was a quality of life issue, and I felt like I’d try anything to ease her suffering.” Dr. Kramer began feeding Nikita a small amount of marijuana. The dog’s appetite returned, and she appeared more comfortable during her final months.
On the basis of his review of medical marijuana research, Dr. Kramer believed there’s ample evidence to support using marijuana in veterinary patients as an alternative or adjunctive treatment for postoperative or chronic pain and also for palliative care.

Veterinarians do need to be part of the dialogue.