Pet owners in New York are one step closer to being able to give their pets medical marijuana. Over the past few months, state lawmakers have been working on a bill that could legalize the use of medical marijuana for pets. If the proposal continues advancing, New York medical marijuana program may soon include care for pets.
New York Considering New Bill
New York passed its first medical marijuana law in 2014. Now, the state may be expanding that law to include pets. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it legal for veterinarians to recommend medical marijuana for pets.
The bill was initially introduced in March. It is now pending in the Senate and State Assembly Health Committees.
The bill was first proposed by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. She framed the idea as a way of dealing with some of the challenges introduced by the state’s opioid epidemic.
As opioid abuse continues to be a problem, veterinarians are often limited in what they are allowed to prescribe for pets. In some places, vets are not allowed to give opioid painkillers to pets, on the fear that those prescriptions may be abused by their owners or others.
These restrictions are presenting new problems for vets and pet owners. In some cases, it’s getting harder for vets to provide adequate care.
“We are either using other medications that may not be effective and maybe more costly for the client and we may have to give them higher dosage and more frequently,” veterinarian Susan Wylegala said in March.
Assemblywoman Paulin said the bill could help veterinarians and pet owners by giving them new options for treating pets. In particular, advocates of the idea think that cannabis could be a good way for vets and pet owners to treat chronic pain and some debilitating conditions in their pets.
Pot for Pets?
For now, the bill remains pending. But if it passes, it would make New York the first state to officially legalize medical marijuana for pets.
The idea of treating pets with cannabis is not new. In fact, researchers at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine conducted a formal study on the topic last fall.
Researchers surveyed pet owners to try and get an idea of ways that people are already giving their pets medical cannabis. Findings from the survey suggested that pets that have been given marijuana tend to respond the best to CBD.
In fact, pet owners that had given their pets CBD said that it helped with their pets’ anxiety, pain, and seizures.
More research is needed. In particular, research is needed to figure out the safest ways to administer cannabis to animals. While there are anecdotes that CBD could help pets, there are also dangers. The most obvious is THC.
Although it’s not toxic to humans, THC can be bad for other animals. If pets consume too much THC, it could be harmful. In large doses, it could be fatal. This is especially true for small dogs and cats.