The Twittersphere was quick to show its wit when news broke that a law proposed in the Nevada legislature would allow medicinal marijuana for animals. Quips rolled out about “cat cannabis” and finding the “Snoop Dogg” in your own dog. That was also the first reaction of Colorado veterinarian Robert Silver when some clients who were also medical marijuana users said they treated their cats, dogs and other pets with their own stash.
“I thought to myself, ‘Ha ha, pot for pets, funny,’” Silver says. “But more and more patients were coming in and saying marijuana had helped their pet.”
Amanda Reiman, manager of marijuana policy at Drug Policy Alliance, saw the benefits with her cat Monkey, who was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Reiman administered a cannabis oil, and soon Monkey was eating better and more active.
“A lot of the pharmaceuticals prescribed for pets are human drugs being used off-label,” Reiman says. “Cannabis as a topical treatment for animals goes back to the ancient Greeks.”
Silver, who is on the board of the Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association, says the drug’s effects on animals need to be studied more, but it could be beneficial for a variety of ailments including cancer, arthritis and seizures. Still, the best delivery methods and dosages are open questions. Dogs, for example, are particularly susceptible to the psychoactive chemical in pot and can experience static ataxia, where they zone out and rock back and forth.
“I’m glad this has come up in Nevada,” Silver says. “It’s an idea whose time has come, and I hope this leads to more research, discussion and other states considering similar legislation.”