Home Legislative California Introduces Bill to Allow Veterinarians to Recommend Cannabis for Pets

California Introduces Bill to Allow Veterinarians to Recommend Cannabis for Pets

© Stock Pot Images / Cindi Spears-Cahill

A bill was recently introduced in California that would legally permit veterinarians to recommend cannabis products for pets, according to a story from the VIN News Service. The bill will now make its way to the state’s Veterinary Medical Board. If the board approves the bill into law, it would be the first of its kind in the nation, furthering California’s status as a pioneer of cannabis freedom.

In the summer of 2018, California lawmakers allowed for the legal protection of veterinarians who choose to discuss with pet owners whether or not cannabis products would be right to administer to their pets. In spite of this legal protection, there is continued confusion as to what is legal for pets to consume, what veterinarians can legally recommend, and so on. If passed, this bill seeks to clarify that confusion while furthering the protection of veterinarians.

Should the California Veterinary Medical Board come out in opposition of the measure, it will probably be tabled for another year or more. Despite this, even if the board would show a “neutral stance” on the matter, the bill could potentially move forward. Regardless of the outcome, the board would need to define guidelines for the law for vets to abide by before January 1st, 2020. Even though they currently have no official stance, the board has released draft guidelines, which could take effect if the bill is eventually passed. In the document, the board warns vets and animal practitioners that “no federal or state agency oversees standardization of cannabis product concentrations for use on animals” and “research to-date is lacking conclusions regarding dose, toxicity & efficacy.”

The board also pointed out in the draft that the landscape of legal cannabis use and the industry as a whole is rapidly changing, and that they would change along with it, stating “discussions should be evaluated in accordance with accepted standards of practice as they evolve over time.”

The VIN News Service says that there are California animal practitioners who are in favor of the bill, one of them being Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian from Oakland. He says that pet owners who are looking for an alternative treatment often seek out his opinion on administering cannabis products to their sick pets.

“Someone comes into my office and says, my dog has cancer, I’d like to talk about whether or not cannabis can help. So we’ll discuss it. Then the conversation comes to, OK, great, what product do I use? Leaving clients to sort out dosing themselves based on information they’ve been given by non-veterinarians or information they find online is risky,” Richter said.

Similar bills that would legally allow owners to administer cannabis products to their pets have been introduced in New York, Connecticut and Tennessee.