Office of Medical Cannabis declares animals not protected by ACMPR regulations.
While membership applications surge for licensed producers across Canada, another trend is emerging simultaneously in the world of medical cannabis—owners and guardians of pets with severe medical conditions have been finding success in treating their furry family members’ symptoms through the use of CDB oil. But recent dialogue between the College of Veterinarians of Ontario and the Office of Medical Cannabis at Health Canada has concluded that for the time being, pets will have to suffer without the benefits of cannabis treatments.
For years people throughout Canada have been using CBD oil to treat animals with conditions like chronic pain, persistent grand mal seizures, osteoporosis, and even anxiety. But veterinarians are unwilling to recommend cannabis treatments, as there are no official guidelines on prescribing them for animals.
Recently a question was raised about the definition of ‘health practitioner’ within the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) framework, but last week the College announced they’ve updated their position on medical marijuana as per their ongoing consultation with Health Canada, emphasizing that Canada’s ACMPR provisions do not apply to veterinarians or animals, and exist for human access only.
The reasoning is that cannabis and its derivative products are prohibited under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and while veterinarians are included as ‘health practitioners’ in the Act, they would still require a ‘legal pathway’ to prescribe cannabis-based medicines. No medicine (cannabis or otherwise) can legally be prescribed without first being classified as an approved medicine by Health Canada, and since no cannabis-based medicines have been approved by Health Canada for use with animals, there can effectively be no legal pathway to prescription.
It’s important to note, however, that this lack of approved medicines seems to be the only roadblock in the legal pathway, and it may not be long before the road is cleared.
At Colorado State University, clinical trials are already underway for cannabidiol as a treatment for epilepsy, as well as for treatment of osteoporosis in dogs. These trials could pave the way for FDA-approved cannabis treatments in the USA, and could ultimately lead to Health Canada-approved treatments in Canada.
Meanwhile, one vet in British Columbia is working with pet owners to help them fine-tune cannabis treatments for their pets.
Since 2013, Dr. Kathy Kramer has been helping pet owners in Vancouver who, independently of veterinary recommendation, have found cannabidiol to be effective in easing the symptoms of their afflicted dogs and cats.
“This is something that the owners were going to do with or without me,” Kramer told the Times Colonist, “I just helped adjust the dose for them.”
But Dr. Kramer was also quick to point out the risk of overdose. Often joked about by cannabis aficionados of the human variety, the possibility of overdose is a real concern for animals, with veterinarians commonly having to treat pets for accidental cannabis toxicity, causing symptoms like incontinence and irregular heartbeats.
According to Dr. Kramer, with timely attention the number of animals that actually die from cannabis overdose is quite low. But the combination of this risk of overdose, and the inevitability that some pet owners will continue to administer cannabis-based medicines whether or not a legal pathway exists, makes clear the need for such a legal pathway to be paved expeditiously.
“If we can find something that works with fewer side effects,” said Kramer, “I think, why not?” She continued, “As far as us trying to actually prescribe it, I imagine there’s going to be some red tape.”
Source: 420Intel – Medical Cannabis