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Imtroducing the Pet Cannabis Coalition: The advocacy group supporting efforts to legalize cannabis for California pets

woman with dogs

The Pet Cannabis Coalition is supporting California Assembly Bill 1885 that will formally legalize cannabis products for pets and allow veterinarians to recommend them for a range of conditions

The Pet Cannabis Coalition, a recently established advocacy group that supports legislation aimed at legalizing cannabis products for pets and creating a legal framework that will allow veterinarians to recommend these products, is announcing today its full support of California Assembly Bill 1885 (AB 1885). If passed, the bill will amend existing language to clearly specify that California veterinarians won't risk discipline by the state's Veterinary Medical Board for recommending the use of cannabis on an animal for potential therapeutic effect or health supplementation purposes.

"Cannabis can provide life-changing–-and oftentimes lifesaving–-benefits for animals," says veterinarian Dr. Tim Shu, the President of the Pet Cannabis Coalition and the Founder and CEO of cannabis-based therapy company, VETCBD. 

"Pets and their owners deserve to have access to products that can improve their lives, and veterinarians should be allowed to provide guidance on such products. We need to shed the shroud of prohibition and embrace science if we're to embark on a path of progress. This is why we created the Pet Cannabis Coalition; to ensure there is staunch political advocacy surrounding the health and wellness of our beloved pets."

Animals can benefit from the therapeutic properties of cannabis. Studies have shown that cannabinoids such as CBD can provide benefits to pets suffering from arthritis and seizures, and veterinarians across the country have reported improvements in patients with conditions such as pain, anxiety, allergies, nausea, and seizures.1,2,3

Pet owners want to discuss cannabis with their vets and receive recommendations about products and dosages. However due to the current lack of legal clarity, most veterinarians are reluctant to make any recommendations and could face disciplinary repercussions for doing so.

While the passage of AB 2215 back in 2018 technically allowed veterinarians to discuss the use of cannabis on an animal for medicinal purposes, it in no way clarified the point at which "discussion" becomes "recommendation," which carries with it potential disciplinary action. Due to this lack of clarity, many veterinary professionals reasonably choose to err on the side of caution and forgo discussion of cannabis use on pets altogether. As it stands, this reluctance to even discuss the potentially therapeutic properties of cannabis in regard to pet health leaves California pet owners without accredited advice and support surrounding these potentially useful natural compounds.

"A crucial component of the work we do is advocating for animals, both on the state and national level," says Elizabeth Oreck, National Manager of Campaigns and Initiatives for Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit that operates the nation's largest animal rescue sanctuary and two pet lifesaving centers in Los Angeles.

 "California's legal language surrounding how veterinarians can discuss cannabis is unclear, and this too often has them deciding not to discuss it at all. While the research shows that animals can benefit from cannabis in various ways, many caring pet owners aren't able to receive professional advice about these benefits."

The Pet Cannabis Coalition wants to change this. By supporting AB 1885, the advocacy group is forging a clear path toward formal legalization–-and thus, proper regulation–-of cannabis products for pets and, with it, the ability for veterinarians to confidently recommend these products for a range of pet health and wellness issues. If AB 1885 passes, cannabis compounds including tinctures, topicals, and chews will be able to be recommended for administration to pets by pet owners, all under the guidance and support of animal healthcare professionals. An additional benefit of AB 1885 is that this legal framework will ensure all animal cannabis products are tested for safety, concentration, pesticides, and other quality control measures; a huge benefit in terms of maintaining standards, building trust, and enhancing safety for California pets.

"On behalf of our members across the state, we're enthusiastic about supporting the mission of the Pet Cannabis Coalition," adds Lindsay Robinson, Executive Director of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA).

 "AB 1885 is an important step forward in providing clarity and structure surrounding how cannabis can be used for therapeutic purposes in pets."

The Pet Cannabis Coalition is a collaborative effort led by cannabis-based therapy creator, VETCBD, along with the nation's largest sanctuary for homeless animals, the Best Friends 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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