Legislators in New York seem to think so.  Recently, Democrat Amy Paulin introduced legislation that would allow veterinarian in New York to certify pets for the medical cannabis program.  However, Paulin has not found a sponsor in the Senate.


What Does the Legislation Say?

The argument for the legalization of medical marijuana for pets is simple:  Since many people benefit from medical marijuana, animals with similar medical conditions can also benefit.

The bill states, “Research suggests that animals can also benefit from cannabis use to similarly treat their ailments.”

For pets with chronic illnesses or those who traditional treatment methods have not been effective, animal owners would be given the option to use medical marijuana to bring relief to their suffering pet.


Will the Legislation Make it to the Floor?

Unfortunately, no.  With no co-sponsor in the Assembly and no sponsor in the Senate, the bill faces an uphill battle.  In addition, Governor Andrew Cuomo is not rushing to support any medical cannabis legislation.  So, even if the bill were to pass both the Assembly and Senate, it may end up “dead-on-arrival” when it reaches the governor’s desk.

There is some good news for the bill’s supporters.  Representative Richard Gottfried, a longtime proponent of medical cannabis and chair of the Assembly Health Committee, received the bill.  Gottfried was the lead sponsor for legislation in 2014 for New York’s medical cannabis program.

Growing support across the country is building for the use of medical marijuana for people suffering from a wide variety of ailments who are seeking relief.  Research continues to prove the benefits of cannabis oil in treating a variety of conditions. 

Veterinarians and pet owners, in states such as Nevada, where medical cannabis for pets is allowed, are finding that there are many positive benefits for dogs.  When used as an alternative medication to treat cancer, seizures, or even anxiety, cannabis oil is gaining popularity.


What is Cannabis Oil?

Derived from the marijuana plant, cannabis oil is extracted from the flowers of the plant.  Marijuana flowers contain trichomes.  These are glands on the plant that contain essential oils.  When separated from the plant, scientists formulate these oils to identify the perfect ratio of cannabinoids.

Cannabinoid is a class of chemical compounds that act on certain receptors and alter the release of neurotransmitters in the brain.  There are two main constituents in the marijuana plant:  tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). 

THC is the psychoactive compound that gives users the “high” feeling and CBD does not.  However, CBD has been found to provide anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic effects for users.

Scientists have isolated 113 different cannabinoids from cannabis which exhibit varied effects.  Epilepsy, inflammatory conditions, multiple sclerosis pain, and even certain addictions have been treated successfully with CBD.

For pet owners who are worried that Fido will become addicted to marijuana, Dr. Gary Richter, an Oakland, California veterinary medical director, states, “Depending on the nature of the product, if it contains little or no THC, then the dog is not going to get high.”


What Are Some of the Benefits for Dogs Who Take Cannabis Oil?

When the cannabinoids in marijuana connect with the endocannabinoid system, relief for pain, anxiety, or even nausea is felt.  A series of receptors runs throughout the body.  The cannabinoids interact with these receptors bringing many dogs relief.  In addition, with proper dosage, there are no life-threatening side effects, unlike some other traditional medications that are prescribed by doctors.  The kidneys, liver, or GI tract are not damaged by cannabis oil.

Some common health conditions in dogs that cannabis oil has been found beneficial in treating include:

  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Back Pain
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Cancer symptoms


What Are Some of the Potential Risks for Dogs Who Take Cannabis Oil?

Since a minute amount of THC is in cannabis, not enough for the pet to get “high,” but enough to be detected, if a pet receives an overdose of cannabis oil, the effects may last for days.  THC toxicity can be a very noticeable side-effect of an overdose of cannabis oil.  The pet may be unable to stand or eat.

However, these types of life-threatening risks are very rare.  In fact, a pet is more likely to have an adverse reaction to chocolate, coffee, or raisins.  Still, there have been recorded cases of dogs who have ingested large amounts of marijuana and died.  Therefore, Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinary advisor with petMD advises that preventing overdoses with medical cannabis is still extremely important.   As with any medication given to a pet, consult a veterinarian first.


How Do I Administer Cannabis Oil to My Dog?

There are some topical treatments available, but typically, cannabis oil is administered to dogs orally.  Cannabis oil does not interfere with other traditional medications and treatments.  In fact, research suggests that marijuana and traditional medications share “synergistic benefits.”

Dosing should be done properly to prevent any negative side-effects such as psychoactive reactions.  If a pet is dosed properly, they should only have a positive effect and no psychoactive effects.

However, there is a problem with dosage regulations for dogs…there are none.  Coates suggests that until there is sufficient research done to determine the correct dosage for CBD oil in dogs, pet parents should take the time to talk to a veterinarian who is already experienced with treating pets with cannabis oil.  Information about proper dosage and reputable manufactures is akin to gold.


Where Can I Get Cannabis Oil for My Dog?

Depending on which state a person lives in and the state’s marijuana laws, obtaining medical cannabis for a pet may be as easy as pulling out a person’s medical cannabis card.  Since there are no medical cannabis cards for animals, a person must first speak to a veterinarian who is familiar with proper dosage amounts.  Then, they can purchase cannabis oil with their personal medical marijuana card and administer the proper dosage to their pet.  Pet parents who live in states where there are no medical marijuana laws may opt for hemp products that contain lower amounts of THC.

It is obvious that much additional research needs to be conducted on proper dosage amounts, the numerous benefits to cannabis oil for pets, and any side effects that may yet be known.