Is there research supporting that use or underlying any of the claims made for the scores of cannabis and cannabinoid-based products marketed for pets? Does a practitioner who recommends such a product for a patient risk discipline from the state licensing board, the Food and Drug Administration, or the Drug Enforcement Administration? These were just some of the thorny issues covered during the first-ever AVMA Cannabis Symposium, held Aug. 20-22 during the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020.
1. "We certainly recognize the potential opportunities that cannabis-derived compounds may offer and acknowledge the significant interest in these possibilities,” said symposium speaker Randall Gnatt, a senior regulatory counsel in the Office of Surveillance and Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
2. California is the only state to specifically address veterinarians’ ability to engage with clients, indicating that veterinarians can discuss the use of cannabis for medical purposes with clients without being disciplined by the veterinary medical board solely for having that conversation. By that same statute, veterinarians are prohibited from prescribing, dispensing, or administering any cannabis or cannabis-based products.
3. “We don’t know about coadministration with other medicines or risks to vulnerable animal populations. This doesn’t mean that we know CBD is categorically unsafe under all circumstances, but given the gaps in our current knowledge and the known risks that have been identified, we’re not at a point where we can conclude that CBD products are safe for use.”
4. In 2019, the AAVSB surveyed state veterinary licensing boards about whether it is legal for a veterinarian to discuss cannabis with a client. Jim Penrod, executive director of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, said the association recently contacted those boards to determine whether they were still comfortable with the answers they gave in the 2019 survey, and several changed their answers. Responses varied... Six states said veterinarians could lose their license if they even talk about cannabis; four said veterinarians need to adhere to federal law; seven said state boards can’t provide legal advice; seven said they have no formal opinion on the matter; two said veterinarians could talk about cannabis but only if the client starts the conversation; 18 responded that veterinarians could discuss cannabis but could not prescribe or dispense it; and four said veterinarians could discuss the topic.
5. Several speakers support the need for regulation and transparency. Dr. Hazzah, founder of the Veterinary Cannabis Society, cited a 2015 study that evaluated 75 edible cannabis products available in various California cities and found that just 7% of the products were accurately labeled for the cannabinoid content. In a follow-up session, Jack Henion, PhD, professor emeritus of toxicology at Cornell University, also conveyed results of a similar study where 12 of 13 animal products had greater THC levels than acceptable limits. “It is important that clients do their due diligence and ask for a certificate of analysis,” said Dr. Hazzah.