Newest Customers for Medical Marijuana: Pets

Pets on Pot: The Newest Customer Base for Medical Marijuana – The New York Times – By LAURA M. HOLSONOCT. 8, 2016

When Lisa Mastramico needed relief for her ailing tabby, Little Kitty, she turned to an unlikely source: marijuana.

“My concern was that it’s not my place to get my cat high,” said Ms. Mastramico

But with Little Kitty becoming increasingly isolated, it was time to give it a try. She got a medical marijuana card and purchased two edible oils made for pets and derived from cannabis that she squirts into her pet’s mouth.  

Little Kitty doesn’t hide anymore.

“She comes out and socializes, wants to be in your lap, wants to be petted. It’s a very noticeable difference.”

Other animal lovers who have turned to cannabis-based products to alleviate a host of pet maladies, including seizures, inflammation, anxiety and pain, are reporting similar results

Ms. Norton gives 3-year-old Leia a hemp-based product called Canna-Pet for seizures and anxiety. In the eight months of treatment, she said, “there has been a great reduction in the severity of her seizures.”

To understand the effect of cannabis on animals, it helps to know a little of the science.

The cannabis plant contains dozens of cannabinoids, among them

  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and
  • CBD (cannabidiol).

THC has the psychoactive properties that make people feel high but are toxic to animals.

CBD, on the other hand, offers the benefits without the buzz. Industrial hemp, used to make textiles and paper, is used in pet products, too, because its THC levels are negligible.

“Dogs are very sensitive to the effects of THC,” said Steve Blauvelt, a veterinarian in Bend, Ore

Stephen Katz, the New York State assemblyman who is also a veterinarian, has teamed up with the University of Pennsylvania’s school of veterinary medicine to conduct clinical trials of Therabis, a trio of hemp-based powders he created for anxiety, mobility and itching.

At his practice in the Bronx, he said, he treats a number of pit bulls suffering from allergies and separation anxiety. “Those dogs scratch an itch down to the bone,” he said.

The products’ cost is on par with prescription drugs, he said: about $20 to $40 a month.

Pet owners in California, where medical marijuana has been legal for two decades, are at the forefront of the trend.

“I told the doctor I had a knee that aches, and my shoulder, too,” she said. “I also said I want to use it for my cat.” She got the card in July.

Ms. McCormick is using a tincture by Treatwell, a California company that also makes edibles for humans. So far, though, she said she has not seen much progress in Bart. “It’s frustrating, because cats are more challenging than dogs,”

Ms. McCormick said. She has adjusted the dose three times, working with Melinda Hayes, 39, the founder of Sweet Leaf Shoppe, a medical cannabis delivery service based in Los Angeles.

Ms. Hayes, who opened her dispensary in 2014, started working with pet owners and their animals last year after consulting with cannabis product makers. “It’s a lot of going back and forth,” she said  

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