Feb 14, 2019 10:16 AM

Why Is Your Veterinarian Still Reluctant to Discuss CBD With You?

Advocating for your pet’s health can be a real challenge. Animals instinctively hide their pain (a carry-over survivor skill from the wild), often making that initial clinical diagnosis difficult and consequently the treatment protocol too.

The good news is CBD is a non-toxic, non-pharmaceutical alternative that can bring relief for many ailments that plague our pets. The bad news? Pet owners across the country eager to broach the subject of BD with their veterinarian continue to be met with silence -- despite numerous trial studies and mounting anecdotal evidence demonstrating the efficacy of CBD oil to rapidly improve the conditions of pets suffering from anxiety, inflammation, seizures, and chronic pain while boosting the pet's immune system.

According to a survey of 2,131 participants conducted by VIN (Veterinary Information Network), 63 percent of veterinarians report having been asked about CBD oil for pets at least monthly, if not weekly or daily. More than 80 percent of those vets also report having never observed or received knowledge of any adverse reactions from pet CBD oil use.

Related: What You Need to Know About CBD for Pets

So why are veterinarians so averse to discussing CBD?

Though hemp-derived CBD is non-psychoactive, it was classified as a Schedule 1 Drug, even in states that have legalized cannabis for human medical purposes, until late last year. What this means is that vets could be penalized and potentially lose their license for advising pet owners on CBD oil. Few were willing to take the risk.

Fortunately a new law in California is bringing hope to pet parents, their beloved animals and their trusted pet physicians.

California veterinarians can now discuss cannabis.

On January 1, 2019 California became the first state to officially pass a law, AB 2215, which allows veterinarians to finally discuss cannabis with their clients.

Opening the doors to discussion about CBD oil with one’s vet is great progress. However, according to the California Veterinary Board, this legislation only protects veterinarians from disciplinary action for talking about CBD oil with pet owners. It does not limit penalties for administering, advertising, selling, or having any paid affiliation with a company. Thus, California pet parents must do their due diligence when purchasing a pet CBD oil product to ensure that their product choice has been independently third party
tested for both potency as well as unwanted herbicides, pesticides and chemicals.

What about the other 49 states in the U.S.?

To date, California is the only state to have passed such a bill. The veterinary boards in Colorado and Oregon allow vets to discuss cannabis with their patients, though their rules fail to make a critical distinction between CBD -- a non-toxic, non-psychoactive compound derived from hemp -- and “marijuana.” To the layperson, marijuana and hemp derived CBD may be interchangeable words, but the dangerous conflation of these terms by state Veterinary Medical Associations remains a major barrier to progress.

To be clear, “hemp” refers to the male cannabis plant, which is rich in CBD and very low in THC. “Marijuana” refers to the female cannabis plant, which is rich in THC and very low in CBD. Marijuana produces what is commonly referred to as “bud,” and when consumed by animals, marijuana can indeed be highly toxic.

The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) “recognizes the interest of companion animal lovers and veterinarians regarding the potential benefits of marijuana therapies for a variety of animal medical conditions.” The Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board (OVMEB) states “Veterinarians may discuss the use of cannabis with clients, and are advised to inform clients about published data on toxicity in animals, as well as lack of scientific data on benefits.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) published a document “Cannabis: What Veterinarians Need to Know.” It is a source for vets to learn about the clinical signs and treatment of acute marijuana toxicity, the effects of chronic marijuana exposure and other relevant topics.

The future of CBD for pets is nonetheless bright.

The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill on December 12, 2018 signals a huge win for the hemp community. While most clinical studies on Schedule 1 drugs are illegal, this bill removed licensed Hemp derived CBD from Schedule 1 status, legally enabling clinical studies on CBD’s usage with pets.

Indeed, the future looks promising as more and more venerable institutions from NYU and Mount Sinai to Colorado State University, Cornell University and UC Davis embark upon studies that lend further credibility and research to the remarkable power of CBD oil to better our pets’ wellbeing. Hopefully, all 50 states will soon be on board with acknowledging the benefits of CBD and helping vets facilitate its use in our pet's preventative wellness regime and as an aid in treating debilitating conditions.

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