Assembly Bill 384 is one of many cannabis bills that will come through the California Legislature this year – but this one is focused on your pets.
The bill would allow licensed veterinarians to recommend CBD to pets without fear of reprisal impacting their ability to practice medicine on animals. This bill would allow everything to be compliant with the various agencies dealing with weed and pets such as the Bureau of Cannabis Control and the Department of Consumer Affairs. California’s Veterinary Medical Board falls under the umbrella of the DCA.
If the bill passes it would require the board to adopt guidelines before 2023 to dictate how vets can recommend cannabis within the veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
Tim Shu has been at the cutting edge of pets and CBD since founding VetCBD in 2015. He spoke with us about the bill’s potential impact on the marketplace. Shu, who is a veterinarian himself, addresses the limits of modern medicine when it comes to treating pets.
“You know one of the really big challenges that we see, not just pets but also in people, is dealing with chronic pain,” explains Shu. “Chronic pain can be very difficult to manage, and it also has a pretty notorious impact on quality of life. And, you know, we see that all the time in animals, we see it in dogs and cats that are suffering from arthritis. They can have a very difficult time getting around.”
Shu noted that we don’t have good options for treating chronic pain in animals. Some of the options that pets do have access to have pretty severe side effects that can make the patient pretty loopy or drowsy. Cannabis offers amazing alternative therapeutic benefits for several situations.
“People don’t realize that animals also have endocannabinoid systems, and so they too can benefit from cannabis. We see benefits ranging from pain to anxiety, inflammatory conditions, nausea, seizures and potentially even cancer,” Shu said. “So we know that there’s a benefit for animals when it comes to cannabis. But veterinarians have been put in a very difficult situation.”
Shu explained that a previous effort around AB-2215 in Sacramento in 2018 was what first permitted vets to talk about CBD with pet owners. But they were at risk of accidentally recommending it, which could still carry consequences to this day. Shu said this bill would help avoid leaving people in the dark when they’re approaching the process.
We asked Shu if the bill essentially removed an invisible line in the sand for vets.
“Exactly,” Shu replied. “This rightfully restores the veterinarians’ place as the primary source of that medical information, because time and time again what we hear is people say, ‘You know I tried talking to my veterinarian, but they didn’t feel comfortable talking to me. They didn’t have any information about it.’”
Shu believes if the bill doesn’t pass, it will leave the information disseminated about pets and CBD to friends and Google as opposed to those more qualified. “These people have good intentions, but the reality is that they’re not medical professionals, the way that veterinarians are,” said Shu.
Apart from giving vets room to talk pot, the bill also creates a category for pets under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.
“Certainly, creating that category of pet products under MAUCRSA is huge because there is no other state, or other country in the world, that has that setup. It’s remarkable for California because California started in 1996, being the first state to legalize medical for patients,” Shu said. “Our goal is that here, in 2021, it’ll be the first state to legalize medical cannabis for animals as well.”
The first committee hearing on AB-384 is taking place April 13. VetCBD is asking for the public’s support to help this pass by writing letters of support at PetCannabis.Org.