Recently, the state of California passed a bill called Assembly Bill 2215 that was sponsored by the California Veterinary Medical Association. In short, the bill forbade the California Veterinary Medical Board from either revoking the license, suspending the license, or otherwise disciplining a veterinarian who chooses to discuss the use of medicinal cannabis on pets with pet owners. However, it is important to note that while this is a historic first for the United States, it does not in anyway give veterinarians the right to provide medical cannabis to pet owners.
How Do Pets Get Exposed to Cannabis Anyways?
The bill is important because the evidence suggests that the states that choose to legalize cannabis for whatever reason see an increase in the number of pets who become exposed to cannabis. Something that can happen for a number of reasons.
For example, there are cases in which the exposure was unintentional in nature. After all, pet owners can get sloppy about storage for their cannabis, which in turn, can lead to their pets getting into it when they are not keeping an eye on them. However, there are also plenty of cases in which the cannabis exposure was very much intentional in nature. Sometimes, this was because the pet owners thought that it would be amusing to see their pets in an intoxicated state. Other times, this was because the pet owners thought that their pets enjoyed being in an intoxicated state. With that said, what was most notable might be the pet owners who thought that cannabis might have useful medical uses for their pets.
What Are the Effects of Cannabis on Pets?
Currently, we don’t actually know whether cannabis has any medicinal uses for our pets or not. This is perhaps unsurprising because there haven’t been a lot of studies on what cannabis can and can’t be used for, though this is starting to change as more and more parties show more and more interest in the substance. However, until those studies have been completed, what we have consists of nothing more than anecdotes, which are not a good basis to make important decisions off of.
In short, there are a lot of stories about dog owners being able to relieve pain in their dogs by giving them either cannabis or cannabis products. Scientifically, this isn’t wholly baseless. After all, dogs possess cannabinoid receptors, meaning that it is reasonable to speculate about cannabis having an important effect on them.
Unfortunately, we don’t know what that effect might be without further evidence. Moreover, we do know that it is perfectly possible for dogs to get very, very sick when they are exposed to excessive amounts of cannabis. Something that can be particularly common when pet owners make bad assumptions based on their own tolerance levels, which wouldn’t be applicable to their pets based on just the difference in body size. Never mind the other relevant factors that can play a role. Regardless, what is important is that over-exposure to cannabis can cause some very serious symptoms such as an altered state of mind, difficulties in remaining upright, an inability to control their urination, uncontrolled muscle tremors and twitching, and bouts of vomiting. In fact, there have been dog deaths caused by excessive exposure to cannabis, with an excellent example being those that have choked on their own vomit.
As for cats, well, suffice to say that the state of our knowledge in that regard is no better than it was for dogs. Once again, there are stories about cannabis providing benefits for cats. However, once again, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that cats can be poisoned by excessive exposure to cannabis, resulting in symptoms such as seizures, mood changes, a lack of coordination, and in some cases, even comas.
Due to this, it is clear that we just don’t know enough about the effects of cannabis on our pets to say much of anything concrete on the matter. As a result, the Californian bill promises to do a lot of good by letting veterinarians provide pet owners with relevant information, thus empowering them to make better choices for the sake of their pets.