Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana

What is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana is derived  from Cannabis sativa plant.  Discovery valuable plant chemicals called “phytochemicals” in the cannabis plant have been made such as cannabinoids and terpenes.  “THC”, or Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is one of the two component of the marijuana plant that most people is familiar with and is psychotropic, meaning it gets you “high”. Speaking of the difference between “Marijuana” & “Heme”, cannabis plants with a high THC content and low fiber content are  “Marijuana” and plants with a low THC content and high fiber are called “Hemp”. The low  THC in hemp makes it non psychotropic and is considered legal in most countries. The second important  cannabinoid after THC is called “CBD” or cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is not psychotropic, but has more potent in  medicinal properties than THC. CBDs help to reduce the psychotropic affects of THC and acts mildly sedative at higher doses. Cannabidiol (CBD) is found in smaller amounts in marijuana and in higher amounts in hemp.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal to Give to My Pet?

In 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing for the use of medical marijuana only on the  prescription by a medical doctor but disapprove  for the use of medical marijuana under the prescription of a veterinarian. In fact, for a veterinarian to prescribe, and in some cases just to mention medical marijuana as a option, could result in legal action . Additionally, in some countries, the administration of medical marijuana to a pet by their owner, no matter how much it is suffering, could result in the pet parent being brought up on criminal charges of animal abuse or violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The prescription or use of hemp extracts in pet animals is not against the law for veterinarians or pet guardians. In Nepalese context, its use is not much popular in pets unlike in festivals.

Over time, and with lobbying by pet owners and veterinarians, I think these laws will change, which will allow pet guardians an option of medical marijuana for their serious diseases. These laws only apply to high THC cannabis, or marijuana.

Is Medical Marijuana Safe for administration for My Pet?

 Studies conducted in the 1970’s found that dogs have the highest number of THC receptors in their brains, more than any other animal studied, including humans. Much  of these receptors are located in the area of the brain that governs coordination. A dog who gets too much THC will have an initial and brief period of excitement, then act very disoriented, may drool, may urinate on itself and will stand in one place rocking back and forth unable to move forward. They may fall over onto their side. We call this neurologic reaction:  “Static Ataxia”, and it is unique to the dog . For this reason, dogs are very sensitive to cannabis products that contain THC, and pet guardians need to be very careful about giving THC to their dogs, so as to not create this adverse neurologic reaction. There have been two deaths recorded in Colorado from the use of “edibles”, which are treats containing THC that can be purchased at dispensaries or cooked up in your kitchen. These two fatalities also involved very large amounts of chocolate in the brownies and cookies, and chocolate is much more toxic than THC to dogs. When used together, they create a co-toxicity than can be fatal with high doses of both. Very low THC cannabis, also known as “hemp” does not contain enough THC to create these adverse reactions. They are a better bet for pets, due to their increased safety. Some experts believe that THC is important to give along with CBD to address certain difficult to treat conditions such as cancer. With further research we will learn more about whether this is true. Hemp-based CBD extracts have been anecdotally reported to help dogs with epilepsy. For treating cancer, it is still unknown whether CBDs can work effectively as a single therapy without THC or other anti-cancer drugs. The research to objectively determine this is pending. Certainly the use of CBDs for the side-effects of cancer therapies and the improvement of quality of life in these patients has more evidence to support those applications.

Clinical applications:

  • Treats migraines
  • Slows down tumor growth
  • Relieves symptoms of chronic diseases
  • Prevents Alzheimer’s
  • Treats Glaucoma
  • Prevents seizures
  • Bone formation and fracture healing
  • Arthritic inflammation
  •  Pain
  • Immunosuppression of T-cell activity reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • Vomiting  due  to Chemotherapy-induced vomiting  or Motion sickness
  • Treats skin problems and psoriasis
  • Treats Type 1 diabetes and diabetes complication like retinopathy
  • Prevents anxiety and behavior modification
  • Prevents neurodegenerative diseases
  • Cerebral ischemia (reduced blood and oxygen supply to the brain)
  • Myocardial ischemia (reduced blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle)

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