Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Medical Pot for Pets? Nev. Legislator Wants to Legalize It

We thought the weirdest pet marijuana story was the "stoner dog" story from 2012. Veterinarians in Colorado said they were seeing increased cases of dogs high on marijuana after eating pot brownies their owners have left laying around.

Certainly some of those dogs needed marijuana for medical reasons, though, right? Dogs suffer from some of the same pains in old age that humans do. Why not ease their symptoms? That's what a Nevada state senator wants to do: Legalize medical pot for pets.

A Very Anxious Dog

State Senator Richard "Tick" Segerblom, who represents parts of Las Vegas, introduced SB 372, which would legalize medical marijuana for pets. OK, to be clear here, "pot for pets" is just one provision in a much larger bill that will overhaul the state's medical marijuana law.

The law has nothing to do with animal cruelty or mistreatment; it's not explicitly illegal to give your pet marijuana, nor will it be any more or less legal if the bill goes into effect. Rather, the bill allows a pet owner to obtain a medical marijuana registration card, and thus medical marijuana, in the name of a pet instead of a human.

Currently in Nevada, a person must have a valid medical marijuana registration card in order to obtain medical pot, but what if it's the dog and not the human who has the chronic pain? Under Segerblom's amendments, a pet owner could obtain a registration card just for the dog. The bill also allows veterinarians to recommend medical marijuana for relief of an animal's chronic pain or suffering.

Quit Bogarting the Catnip

The idea actually isn't new. The late Dr. Douglas Kramer operated a medical marijuana dispensary for pets in West Hollywood, California, and was convinced that it works. He prescribed marijuana for animals for the same reasons that a doctor would prescribe it for people: chronic pain, anxiety, and to increase appetite, according to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. (Kramer himself died of cancer in 2013.)

It's not clear whether marijuana is effective for treating ailments in animals, but Kramer suggested that giving pot to pets wasn't a novel proposal: According to a survey he conducted, humans are already giving their pets marijuana to ease ailments like seizures and arthritis. There hasn't been any clinical research yet on marijuana for pets, but pharmacologically, it seems to have the same effect on dogs and cats that it does on humans and isn't toxic to them.

SB 372 also calls for the state to set standards for pet marijuana potency, just like it does for humans. If pet pot gets medicalized, then we might get clinical trials that will let us know if it really does work on dogs. Or cats. Or horses.

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