In Cannabis for Pets

The following is a nearly complete excerpt from Chapter Four of my soon to be published book, “Medical Marijuana and Your Pet”.

Cannabis (specifically the psychotropic THC in cannabis), has been illegal for use in the United States and many other countries since the 1930s. Shortly after the prohibition of alcohol ended in the United States, marijuana use was prohibited.

Additionally, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has categorized THC and CBD as Schedule I controlled substances, which means that this federal government agency has determined that THC (and CBD) have no medical applications, and therefore its forbidden for physicians and veterinarians to prescribe.

The exception to this federal prohibition, according to State’s Rights proponents, are physicians who practice in a state with medical marijuana laws and their human patients.

Since 1996, a growing number of states have written legislation (counter to federal law) allowing licensed human physicians (MDs and DOs) to prescribe cannabis to humans for certain medical purposes.

By November 2014, cannabis had been legalized for medical purposes (in humans) in 23 states and the District of Columbia. (see Table 1 below)

In 2015 there are 11 states with pending legislation allowing for the medicinal use of marijuana. (see Table 2 below) In January 2015 Mississippi defeated legislation that would have allowed for the medicinal use of marijuana in that state.

The mid-term elections of November 2014 brought the number of states that have legalized marijuana use for recreational purposes for anyone over 21 years of age to 4: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Washington DC passed a law to decriminalize the possession, use and growing of marijuana by adults as long as there are no for-profit transactions.

Each state has their own specific legislation, and it is important for you to check with your individual state to learn what its legal code is regarding marijuana use.

States that allow psychotropic cannabis for medical use (each state has its own specific legislation)

# State
1 Alaska
2 Arizona
3 California
4 Colorado
5 Connecticut
6 District of Columbia
7 Delaware
8 Hawaii
9 Illinois
10 Maine
11 Maryland
12 Massachusetts
13 Michigan
14 Minnesota
15 Montana
16 Nevada
17 New Hampshire
18 New Jersey
19 New Mexico
20 New York
21 Oregon
22 Rhode Island
23 Vermont
24 Washington

States with Pending Legislation to legalize marijuana as of February 2015

# State
1 Florida
2 Georgia
3 Indiana
4 Kansas
5 Kentucky
6 Mississippi (defeated 1-2015)
7 Missouri
8 Nebraska
9 North Dakota
10 Pennsylvania
11 South Carolina
12 Tennessee

The information in this chapter was obtained from the website: Medical Marijuana Pros and Cons. For the most up to date listing of information about each state’s marijuana regulations, check with these two websites: and

As far as the legality of giving your pet cannabis: There is no legislation that allows legal medical cannabis for pets. The state laws that currently exist allowing medical cannabis are for human use only. Recently a bill was introduced into the Nevada state legislature that would allow a veterinarian to prescribe medical marijuana for their animal patients. As of this writing, this bill has not passed.

If a veterinarian were to prescribe cannabis, it is against all state and federal laws to do that, and the veterinarian could risk losing his or her license, and even possibly go to jail.

However, the legality of a veterinarian suggesting you give your pet cannabis for a medical condition is unclear, and probably would depend on local community standards. Some communities would see this as a form of animal abuse, and may press charges against the veterinarian and/or the pet owner.

For this reason its important for a veterinarian to check with their local state board for more definition regarding the scope of their state’s law as regards veterinarians and the use of marijuana in animals.

If a pet owner administers cannabis to their pet with or without a veterinarian’s recommendation, then again, depending on community standards, the pet owner might get into trouble. This is all theoretical at this point.

You, as the pet’s caregiver, absolutely MUST take extra precautions to keep your pet protected from any possible access to these medications, which are definitely harmful when ingested in sufficiently large amounts.

The part of the cannabis that is toxic to dogs is the excessively high levels of THC found in marijuana, but not in hemp. The other components of the cannabis plant, the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are non-toxic in the levels present in marijuana (as far as we know), and also, non-psychotropic.

Industrial hemp, by definition, has less than 0.3% THC on a dry-matter basis as determined by an analysis of the plant material at harvest. So for our pets, and our children, we need to be using this material that is both non-psychotropic and has higher levels of the medical cannabinoids in it than marijuana with its high THC levels and low cannabinoid levels.

Hemp can be concentrated as an extract oil made from the 0.3% THC dry-matter plant material. This is called “hemp” oil. The concentrate made from THC-containing cannabis is called “hash oil”. Cannabis plants that contain more than 0.3% THC are commonly termed “marijuana”.

Hemp SEED oil, which is from the seed, primarily contains omega three and omega six fatty acids, and does not contain CBDs or THC in any substantial amount.

In this book, I refer to:

  1. “Marijuana” as the cannabis-derived plant material that contains THC and lower levels of CBDs and other beneficial cannabinoids.
  2. “Hemp” as the cannabis-derived plant material that contains nearly no THC and has higher levels of CBDs and other beneficial cannabinoids.



Doc Rob
Dr. Robert Silver DVM, MS, CVA achieved his lifetime goal of becoming a veterinarian when he graduated from Colorado State University’s (CSU) College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. In the 90s, after creating Boulder’s Natural Animal, a Holistic Wellness Center, Dr. Silver established effective protocols for a number of serious, potentially life-threatening chronic diseases in dogs and cats, such as cancer, allergies, chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disease, Canine epilepsy, and behavior problems. Dr. Silver's has also designed nutritional and herbal formulas for RxVitamins for Pets and worked directly with pets who have been given cannabis and hemp by their owners to address a number of difficult conditions such as epilepsy, pain, cancer and behavior problems. Although retired from day-to-day practice, Dr. Silver still consults on difficult cases referred from veterinarians, and continues to work as Chief Medical Officer for RxVitamins for Pets.
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Showing 3 comments
  • Susan

    Doc, thanks for sharing this highly informative article. Can you tell me something about these hemp products for pets? Any suggestion would be appreciated, thanks!

    • Doc Rob

      I’m late in responding to your question. Take a look here at this website where there are a number of hemp products that I approve of: Well-Pet Dispensary
      Dr. Silver

    • Doc Rob

      Hemp has many benefits to dogs with pain or anxiety, even cancer can be helped. It won’t help all problems, but it does seem to work pretty well for many things. Have you read my book, Medical Marijuana and Your Pet? . It has a lot of good information in it as well.

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