October 17th, 2018 will be a historic day in Canada. Much like the prohibition of alcohol, the illegality of cannabis will become a footnote of Canadian history on this day in the fall of 2018.
As of today, the ban on recreational use of cannabis in Canada is gone. Human use of cannabis has been long recorded (in some cases back to the Ancient Assyrian’s of ~100 AD) and is even used in the palliative therapy of cancer patients as a very capable therapeutic drug. In animals, there is much less information on the effects of cannabinoids.
OK, wait, what does this mean for our four-legged roommates?
THC & CBD
The cannabis plant is filled with unique chemicals and compounds (at least 113!) that have a number of diverse impacts on humans. Two of its natural components, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), carry different effects on the human body and interact even differently with our furry friends. CBD, which is mostly derived from hemp, contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
First thing’s first: THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis.
Next thing’s next: CBD is the primary non-psychoactive component of cannabis.
As our friends at the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association have pointed out, there is much less information on the effects of cannabinoids on our pets than on humans as research has typically concentrated on the toxic effects on dogs, in particular. Current studies suggest that dogs have a higher number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain compared with humans and it has been reported that our canine pets may be more susceptible to the toxic effects of cannabis than we are.
Research on the effects of cannabis, especially THC, have been concentrated on the toxic effects on dogs particularly — almost always due to accidental ingestion, experimental administration to study toxicity or ingestion of synthetic cannabinoids. The newly legal access to marijuana in the United States and Canada will likely put added pressure on the need for information on the effects of toxicity in our animal counterparts.
As CBD has become more of a mainstream treatment for those struggling with the side effects of cancer, nausea and vomiting, pain, epilepsy, lack of appetite, and inflammatory bowel disease. CBD can be a useful component of cannabis for your pets, as well as yourself as a pet parent. Although CBD treatments appear promising for many people suffering from such conditions, Health Canada has not yet validated the efficacy of CBD for use in pet products.
As Canada navigates this new era of the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis, Baie Run will help to keep you informed and up-to-date with any new policy or regulatory changes to continue to keep you and your pets as happy and healthy as possible.
More information on Veterinary Health Products in Canada
More information from the US National Library of Medicine
Wynn SG. The lowdown on cannabis in veterinary medicine. 2016. [Last accessed August 12, 2016].
Pyszniak M, Tabarkiewicz J, Łuszczki JJ. Endocannabinoid system as a regulator of tumor cell malignancy — biological pathways and clinical significance. Onco Targets Ther. 2016;9:4323–4336.
Meola SD, Tearney CC, Haas SA, Hackett TB, Mazzaferro EM. Evaluation of trends in marijuana toxicosis in dogs living in a state with legalized medical marijuana: 125 dogs (2005–2010) J Vet Emerg Crit Care. 2012;22:690–696.
Booth M (1 June 2005). Cannabis: A History. Picador. pp. 338–. ISBN 978-0-312-42494-7.