It’s unclear how many dogs and cats have been given marijuana, either willingly or unbeknownst to the little critters. However, two California companies founded in the past year have hundreds of customers who do just that–buying cannabis-infused products for their pets that supposedly treat everything from kidney failure to cancer.
Don Duong, co-owner and co-founder of VetCBD states that “all of our feedback has been overwhelmingly positive” in regards to his Los Angeles based business, which sells marijuana products across the state, including in the Bay Area.
This new era of providing medical marijuana to one’s pet has not come without stiff criticism, drawing ire from everyone to the ASPCA to the Food and Drug Administration to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
“At this point, the ASPCA does not support using marijuana in pets for pain control,” Tina Wismer, medical director for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said in a statement. “There have been no scientifically accepted studies comparing marijuana products to known pain control medications.”
Interestingly, although startups such as VetCBD are fraught with criticism, they usually face little to no resistance of operating, even from the FDA, which generally cracks down only when a product claims to treat a specific illness or symptom.
Many of these critics say marijuana’s effect on dogs, cats and other pets is unclear, but too much THC could make a pet sick or cause undue duress. However more than likely, your pet will sleep for quite some time. I know mine certainly did.
Similar to the medical marijuana humans consume, there are two types of medical cannabis products that are emerging in the pet industry. One uses oil extracted from California-grown marijuana plants containing different ratios of CBD to THC. The oil is mixed into tinctures and given directly to pets or put in their food. This is much preferred than the old method of blowing smoke directly into your pets face or nostrils.
VetCBD and San Francisco based TreatWell both sell products in the CBD category. CEO *Alison Ettel said her business TreatWell is growing — by about two customers each day — despite its dubious legality.
“It’s kind of like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” Ettel said via SFGate. “We haven’t gotten any pushback yet.”
Other cannabis products for pets use hemp, which contains no psychoactive properties whatsoever. The companies who sell these products tend to have been around longer, usually offering CBD infused oils or pet treats with little or no THC content. They operate under loopholes in the state law allowing the nationwide sale of hemp products with THC levels below 0.3 percent, as long as the hemp isn’t grown in the U.S.
Oakland’s Treatibles is just one store who operating in this state of uncertainty. CEO Julianna Carella made it clear she made the switch from marijuana treats to hemp ones for strictly legal reasons.
“We were getting requests from all over the world, but we couldn’t legally ship that marijuana-based product,” Carella said via SFGate. “That’s the only way we can legally ship it out of state.”
Since regulations surrounding marijuana pet products remain vague, the companies selling them tend not to advertise their products on the Internet, creating a pseudo-secretive, word-of-mouth industry that can stifle sales and create an aura of illegitimacy to an otherwise legitimate industry.
Adding to the issue is the fact that many marijuana companies are in direct conflict with hemp companies, saying their product is made or rather should be made solely for industrial purposes, as hemp does not contain enough overall cannabinoids or terpenoids to elicit the same benefits as marijuana. They also say digesting the fibers in hemp could ultimately damage a pets’ health.
“If marijuana were legal across state lines, no one would need to sell hemp”, Ettel retorted.
“I think science is playing catch-up,” Treatible’s Carella said. “We are about 90 years behind where we should be.”
But despite the hurdles, like many new marijuana startups, Carella’s business shows no signs of burning up.
My name is Petey Wheatstraw, also known as Charles Stevens. I’m an avid marijuana smoker, writer, devoted father and non-profit minion– not necessarily in that order. A Chicago native I’ve lived off and on in the Bay Area since 1996. Seven years ago I finally settled here to capture the changing face of our communities.