• Aundrea Foster

Michigan veterinarians can now talk CBD with pet owners

People use CBD products to find relief from a variety of ailments, and many pet owners want to know if their furry family members could benefit from CBD products too. Generally, the best way to know with certainty that CBD is right for an animal is to discuss that option with the animal’s regular veterinarian.

However, this has been a barrier for some pet owners. In some states, veterinarians could lose their license if they even discuss the subject with clients. Fortunately, pet owners in Michigan will no longer face this particular barrier.

At the end of 2020, Michigan passed a new law that allows veterinarians to discuss cannabis products with their clients. In an argument for this law, the legislative analysis states that animals, like humans, need individualized health care.

“The current restriction on veterinarians’ ability to discuss the benefits, as well as the risks, or treatments for pets derived from marijuana or industrial hemp results in incomplete and inadequate pet health care,” the legislative analysis adds.

The new Michigan law will likely benefit curious pet owners and their animals. Unfortunately, other barriers regarding cannabis pet products remain. One of the biggest barriers may be that many veterinarians are unfamiliar with the way new cannabis products might affect animals.

However, a growing interest in these products led to the first ever American Veterinary Medical Association Cannabis Symposium, which was held virtually last August. Speakers at the event covered a variety of topics, including regulatory concerns, toxicological concerns, potential benefits as an analgesic and potential benefits as a treatment for osteoarthritis in animals.

Jim Penrod, the executive director of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB), was one of those speakers. He reportedly explained that it is AAVSB’s position that veterinarians should be able to discuss CBD with pet owners.

“If a client comes in and says, ‘I’m going to use CBD on an animal,’ you should be able to talk to them about it, to warn them about some of the side effects, to watch out for those, to make sure that they’re purchasing a product that’s been analyzed and it doesn’t contain things like pesticides,” Penrod reportedly said.

Dr. Hazzah, a founder and co-president of the Veterinary Cannabis Society, was another speaker at the event. She reportedly explained that cannabis products are usually used with animals as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, or anti-neoplastic.

Like Penrod, she emphasized the importance of selecting the right product. She recommended “finding companies that are transparent, have good customer service, that have up-to-date COA — a certificate of analysis — confirming that the product is free of contaminants and that is very specific on what is in the product.”

Although Michigan pet owners can now turn to their veterinarian for advice, they may still face a limited selection of legal cannabis products for pets. It is not legal for retailers to sell CBD animal food or CBD pet treats because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved CBD as a feed ingredient. Although some pets might benefit from cannabis products, the FDA has not yet approved any cannabis product for pets, a subject that was also discussed at the American Veterinary Medical Association Cannabis Symposium.

“We certainly recognize the potential opportunities that cannabis-derived compounds may offer and acknowledge the significant interest in these possibilities,” Randall Gnatt reportedly said at the event. Gnatt is a senior regulatory counsel in the Office of Surveillance and Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

“There is a great need for more rigorous scientific research into both safety and potential therapeutic uses of cannabis-derived products for animals,” he added.

This type of research could take years, which might not be immediately helpful to pet owners who believe their animals could benefit from cannabis products now. In the meantime, Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has clarified that retailers can sell animal supplements that are made from hemp. It adds that Michigan residents are legally allowed to add a hemp-derived product, like CBD oil, to their pet’s food.







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