The national debate over medical marijuana is taking an unexpected turn as more people are choosing pot to treat their ailing pets. They can use a special form of liquid cannabis, formulated just for animals. Some pet owners swear by the results, but these substances are not regulated and not proven, and now they’re starting to face dogged resistance, reports CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.
It’s dinner time for Brutus and Kallie, but along with the meal, Brett Hartmann also feeds them something extra: a dose of liquid cannabis. He said it’s helped alleviate Kallie’s anxiety and Brutus’ chronic pain after surgery following a pit bull attack.
“Utilizing cannabis every day with him has really made a big difference,” Hartmann said, adding that it’s made a huge impact in their lives.
“A 13-year-old dachshund, you know, they’re going to have a lot more issues with mobility,” Hartmann said. “And you can tell his quality of life is just so much more enjoyable.”
“Some people will say, however, that you’re drugging your dog,” Villarreal pointed out.
“I beg to differ. I feel like this is botanical, this is plant medicine,” Hartmann replied.
Alison Ettel got into the medical marijuana field about 20 years ago, but for the past decade, her focus has shifted from humans to animals.
“We actually use the same cannabis extract that we do in humans, so we don’t differentiate between humans and animals,” Ettel said. “And honestly, I’ve seen better results in the animals than I am even in the humans.”
Ettel said her marijuana-based product, TreatWell, and others like it, does for animals the same thing medical pot does for humans: alleviates pain, calms seizures and crippling anxiety, even battles cancer.
Veterinarian Ken Pawlowski is president of the California Veterinary Medical Association. He said that, as more states legalize marijuana, cases of pets getting sick from ingesting their owners’ pot are spiking.
“We see those pets that come in with intoxications and they can run the gamut from being fairly mild to being very severe. …Unfortunately there are instances where there have been fatal overdoses,” Pawlowski said.
Although he admits such deaths are rare, he said they often cause sensory overload, lack of coordination and tremors.
“If you use small amounts and if you follow the instructions, it does not get the animal high,” Ettel said.
Ettel said because pet products like hers have fewer chemicals that cause the sensation of being high, the animal won’t get sick. As for Hartmann, he hopes lawmakers clear the way for studies which could confirm the safety of cannabis for pets.
“I’m looking forward to common sense legislation which is going to be based on facts,” Hartmann said.
If people want to give cannabis to their pets, they can only do so if they have a valid cannabis card. Veterinarians are not legally allowed to prescribe the substance, so owners are acting as their pet’s doctor, a situation that gives some actual veterinarians pause.