In Cannabis for Pets

The short answer to the question in the title, is NO.  Not a single state has legislation to allow the prescription of medical marijuana for pets by a veterinarian. One state, Nevada, has introduced a bill into its legislature allowing veterinarians to prescribe medical marijuana for their patients. As of this posting that law has not yet passed.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has categorized both THC and CBD as Schedule I Controlled Substances. This means that they have determined that  these active ingredients in marijuana have no legitimate medical use. Therefore as a result of this DEA classification, it is forbidden for physicians and veterinarians to prescribe marijuana or its derivatives. The exception to this federal prohibition, according to legislation passed by 23 states and the District of Columbia, are human physicians who practice in a state with medical marijuana laws who are therefore allowed to prescribe medical marijuana for 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. Each year this number of states allowing this has grown. Additionally, 5 states, as of this post also allow for the recreational use of marijuana by persons 21 years or older. These states are: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia.

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.

In another cannabis blog on this site also about the legal landscape of medical marijuana, I discuss how this law is in a grey zone. No one has yet been charged with giving their pet marijuana illegally in states where medical marijuana is legal for people. Until there is a test case, we have to assume that since legally pets are the property of their humans, that they can be given medical marijuana for appropriate reasons by their owners.

For a veterinarian to prescribe medical marijuana for any reason is considered illegal by federal law, and by state law as well. The reason why medical marijuana was  given to the pet may have a bearing on whether it is construed as an act of abuse or an act of compassion. If the pet’s owners just wanted to see how their dog would behave if it was high, then that would probably not be a legitimate reason to give a pet marijuana, and would come under the category of abuse.

On the other hand, if that pet had intractable epilepsy, and even on strong drugs its severe seizures were not controlled; its owner gave their suffering pet some medical marijuana or hemp-based CBD for its seizures out of a sense of compassion and frustration. This would less likely be considered an act of animal abuse. The local legal climate ultimately will decide how these issues get resolved.

Dogs are extremely sensitive to the adverse effects of THC. They get all loopy and unstable on their feet. It takes much less THC to affect a dog than a human being, and many people just don’t know that. So, if you are thinking about giving some MJ to your pet, take it really slowly, and just give it a teeny amount twice daily for 7 days to establish tolerance before you start to ramp the dosage up, that is a much safer way to proceed.

I’ve written a book to guide you in your decision-making process about whether or not to give your pet medical marijuana, and the book explains a simple way to avoid side-effects, as well as conditions that may be responsive to medical marijuana.

You can find links to order the book or to download a free excerpt at:

Robert J. Silver DVM, MS, CVA
November, 2015



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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