A Sign of the Times: Medical Marijuana Use and Veterinary Medicine

You knew it was going to happen. With more states considering and approving medical marijuana use for people, you knew the questions would start coming about the use of medical marijuana in veterinary medicine. And, boy, did they come. And they aren’t stopping.

Reporters from news outlets around the country have contacted the AVMA’s Media Relations Department asking about the association’s stance on the use of medical marijuana in veterinary settings. While the AVMA doesn’t yet have an official position on the issue, staff members in our Scientific Activities Division have been able to assist these reporters by focusing on a few consistent messages, such as:

  • Veterinarians making treatment decisions must use sound clinical judgment and current medical information, and must be in compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations.
  • Medications do not necessarily work the same in animals as they do people, which underscores the value of extensive studies showing safety and efficacy, and also the value of the FDA’s approval process for drugs used in animals.
  • There are possibilities of adverse reactions, including toxicities and failure to treat the clinical condition at hand.

What are you hearing? Are your clients asking about the use of medical marijuana and its derivatives? Have you discussed its use with your clients? This is a topic that is going to attract increased attention as more and more states consider whether to legalize the use of medical marijuana. We’d love to hear your thoughts about it, and you can share them by clicking on the “Leave a reply?” button above.

If you’re looking for more information on the topic and what’s being said in some veterinary circles, check out Scott Nolen’s recent article in JAVMA News. It brings up some great questions about medical marijuana use, as veterinarians, their clients and the AVMA do their best to come up with some answers.

9 thoughts on “A Sign of the Times: Medical Marijuana Use and Veterinary Medicine

  1. It is possible to obtain the therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant, without the psychoactivity of elevated THC.

    The way we are doing it, is by using hemp as our input. It naturally provides high levels of phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, with very low (non psychoactive) levels of THC.

    Two DVMs have been working on the formula and dosages for cats and dogs for over six years, and now it is available to the public, without a prescription.

    We have clients in 30 states and 4 foreign countries, and overwhelmingly positive results, with conditions from chronic pain, to seizures, to allergies, to behavior disorders and anxiety.

    Our technical paper is available here:

  2. My 10 yr old Boxer was just diagnosed with bone marrow leukemia. I chose not to put her on prednisone, and am researching holistic remedies. Any information is greatly appreciated. Thanks

  3. We need studies to determine safety and dosing information…the sooner the better!

  4. Medical Cannabis works! From personal experience I can state unequivocally it eases pain, reduces tumors and prolongs quality of life in animals. My vet’s office was so impressed they passed the #s of other clients on to me so I could offer them assistance.

  5. I believe it’s a viable option that should be explored. If there was a chance it could help my sick dog, I’d want to have it available.

  6. It is a well known fact that people and animals can have different reactions to different drugs. It is also a well known fact that both people and dogs, maybe other animals, have an endocannabinoid system. Administering cannabis to a dog is possible and safe if you titrate.
    My dog was born with a L-7 deformed vertabrae. He was a service dog we raised for CCI, he was released from the program during advanced training. We treated his condition for almost 6 years with Rimadyl, monitoring him closely twice a year. After 2 bouts with pancreatitus, we had to stop. We tried a couple other meds like Tramadol .
    My vet advised alternative medicine like acupuncture. I mentioned MMJ and she enthusiastically said “by all means, if you have access and can administer responsibly”
    So I have a cannabis dog now. 6 months ago I thought we would have to put him down, at 9 years old. I am hoping he can be around for another year or 2. He will let me know when it is time to go, I feel this strongly.
    This is not scientific I know, and most doctor’s and vets will continue to poo-poo the medical benefits of cannabis.
    Here is what I know after almost 60 years on this planet. Cannabis will not kill you or your pets. It has many valid reasons to be considered in treatment of our pets, especially for pain management and end of life issues, like cancer.


    • Hypothetically how much do you administer for. 20 lb , 13 yo Shiba inu with painful arthitis who is otherwise healthy. Rimadyl tramadol and acupuncture have not worked

  7. Having a 3 YO dog with epilepsy who at one time was on high end therapeutic levels of 4 drugs (Zonisamide, Keppra, Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide) and still having cluster seizures every 2 weeks, I asked the neurologist about the possibilities of Medical MJ for my pup. She didn’t have any research on the subject but did say some of her clients had tried it.

    I hope the AVMA takes a serious look at MJ to determine the effects of a drug that has been around longer than most and has proven safe in the human population. I don’t think my dog will become addicted to something I control. And I’m not talking smoking it, I’m talking about splitting the compounds off and analyzing which part of the drug has the most benefits for our furry family.

  8. It’s about time the AVMA took a position on the issue. Marijuana did wonders for my 15 year old Lab and I have several friends who have also used it on their pets. It’s safer than the garbage prescription drugs that most vets send home and it really does work on animals! Bravo to Scott Nolen for bravely taking on this important topic!