While any drug has its risks, cannabis has long-since been used, among other things, for pain relief. Countless cancer patients have reaped the benefits of medical marijuana, and these days, an increasing number of senior citizens are opting for some form of pot over more powerful and addictive prescription drugs. While marijuana is slowly becoming legalized in states across the nation, its usage is restricted to humans. But that’s not stopping the numerous pet owners who are turning to cannabis in order to provide their beloved pets some much-needed relief.
Around 65% of American households own a pet, and for the most part, those pups and kitties are regarded as full-fledged family members. So when their animals start to ache and age, these owners will try anything to bring them comfort.
According to owners across the country, pot is a panacea for all sorts of ailments, including anxiety, arthritis, muscle and joint pain, seizures, and even cancer. While many owners have tried more conventional methods like pet painkillers, they often turn to cannabis extract or edibles as an alternative. By and large, they feel that their animals are relieved of pain, move more freely, and act like their old (or young, in some cases) selves.
Unlike recreational marijuana used by humans, the cannabis products given to dogs and cats contain little to no THC — the compound that makes users feel high. They do contain cannabidiol (CBD), which allows both pet and human users to reap the health benefits without feeling doped up. Studies have found that CBD can reduce inflammation and ease muscular and joint pain. It can also reduce seizures and may help shrink tumors.
That being said, cannabis products for pets, though popular, are not regulated by any agency. In addition, veterinarians are not allowed to suggest, much less prescribe, the use of cannabis for pets. If they do, they may lose their license. Most warn that there simply isn’t enough scientific proof that cannabis can safely and effectively treat these pets. Since marijuana is still technically illegal — though medical marijuana has been legalized in 28 states, thus far — there’s a lack of definitive research on the topic.
There’s also some debate as to whether giving cannabis to your pet is an ethical move. While cannabis treats won’t get them stoned, pets still can’t consent to drug use. And even though the same could be said for administering prescribed medications, those cases are monitored by the pet’s veterinarian. When owners want to turn to pot for their pets, all their vet can say is that they’ll have to use those products at their (and their animal’s) own risk.
Still, owners aren’t likely to give up pot for their pets. Cannabis tinctures and treats continue to grow in popularity, and one Bay Area owner, Barbara Stein, even got a medical marijuana card just to buy reefer for her felines. After seeing how her 13-year-old cat was relieved of his anxiety and digestive issues after ingesting it, she proclaimed her loyalty to pet pot use.
“All I know is that none of the traditional medications she got from the vet worked, but the cannabis did,” she said. “I swear by the stuff.”