Medical marijuana is making the news yet again — this time in pet healthcare. Because — guess what? — all of pot’s positives are readily translated from human to animal models. Or so it would seem. Read on:

'It actually really could be beneficial if it’s something that is well developed,' says Dr. Lisa Moses, VMD, Dipl. ACVIM. Moses serves on the board of directors for the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) and leads the pain management service at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.

(This excerpt from an article recently published DVM Newsmagazine, a vet industry publication available to veterinarian and pet owners at

But Dr. Moses' enthusiasm is tempered by the practical limitations:

'The problem with a lot of stuff is that we know there’s a lot of things that should work, but because of manufacturing sloppiness or poor regulation on a supplement, we don’t know if our patients are getting what we think they’re getting.'

Still, she offers lots of positives. Again, from the DVM Newsmagazine piece:

But aside from the logistics and regulatory concerns, Moses says she would be interested in learning more about medical marijuana for pain relief in animals. If the patch truly allowed veterinarians to give their patients proper doses of the active ingredient in marijuana, Moses says it could help increase appetite, reduce nausea, improve overall energy, control pain and promote an overall feeling of well-being.

'There are definitely reasons to believe the active ingredient in marijuana affects certain pain mechanisms in the nervous system,' she says. 'It’s something I would definitely be interested in trying if it was available to me.'

All of which gets me to thinking kind of positively about the prospect of pot for my patients. Though I’m concerned about the delivery method more than anything else (patches also have their practical limitations), I know that plenty of veterinarians have major reservations about the possibility that pet owners will abuse their pets' meds.

What’s to keep my clients from drug abuse?

What’s my liability here?

Do I really want to go down this road?

To which I have this to say: If anyone’s willing to pull a patch off their pets' skin and endeavor to put it on themselves, I wish them the best of luck. It seems unlikely it’ll get them high, much less forever addicted to the stuff.

Sheesh, people can be so close-minded about what, by now, should be a reasonably well accepted medical tool. Sure, some people still assume medical marijuana is for the weak and the addicted, but the reality is much more nuanced.

So it is that I can’t help wondering: Perhaps it’ll help pot’s PR to prove that it demonstrably helps pets. After all, once proven effective, who would criticize its use in animals whose conditions were improved by this drug’s application? After all, no one could ever accuse them of moral depravity just because marijuana makes them feel better.

Now if only we could say the same for humans in the same situation.

PS: Thanks to DonnaW for offering up this topic for discussion.

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: The Face of the Pot Dog by rongorongo

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