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Michigan pet owners can now discuss cannabis treatments for their pets with veterinarians 

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Good news for our four-legged fur children comes by way of a new bill signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week, which allows Michigan veterinarians to discuss cannabis-based treatment options like CBD use with pet owners.

Bill 5085, introduced in 2020 by Rep. Gregory Markkanen (R), reads “a veterinarian may consult with an owner on the use of marihuana or industrial hemp on an animal of the owner.”

What does this mean for pet owners? Well, for one, it legally opens the door for conversation regarding alternative treatments for a pet's inflammatory disorders, cancer, anxiety, seizures, or other ailments that might benefit from marijuana's anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, and cardiac and anti-anxiety impact. But it also means that veterinarians may need to study up on cannabis-related treatments.

A 2018 study published by Frontiers in Veterinary Studies found that of the 2,100 certified vets surveyed, most considered themselves “fairly knowledgable about the therapeutic use of marijuana in dogs,” but warned that their state-based veterinary associations lacked guidance in how to tackle the subject with pet owners, both legally and medicinally, even in states where weed is legal.

So, is CBD effective in treating pets? While it remains largely inconclusive, as more research — and more specific research — is required, there have been a few studies that suggest that not only is it a safe treatment when administered properly, but it's also effective, especially in cases of inflammation.

A 2020 study out of Baylor College of Medicine in collaboration with CBD brand Medterra published last year found that dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis saw fast and “significant improvement in mobility and quality of life” after being treated with high doses of CBD.

Though it's not a cancer cure, CBD and other cannabis-derived treatments have been linked to successfully treating symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments, including nausea and lack of appetite. But it also has the potential to slow the growth of cancerous tumors.

Metro Times cannabis columnist Larry Gabriel detailed the journey of his late dog Kai, who, after being told would not live past three months due to cancer, lived nearly four years beyond that grim diagnosis after taking daily doses of Rick Simpson Oil, a medication derived from cannabis.

While your veterinarian can now discuss CBD treatments with interested pet owners, they are still prohibited from administering and prescribing cannabis supplements due to federal law and a lack of regulations.

According to, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the marketing of CBD items as food or dietary supplements, despite the 2018 federal legalization of hemp and hemp derivatives — leading to products that may or may not contain CBD, or are full of additives, chemicals, and or hemp seed oil, which is not the same as CBD oil.

Last summer, the FDA issued a “voluntary recall” of dozens of hemp products designated for humans and pets due to lead contamination.

It's a new era for marijuana in Michigan. Sign up for our weekly weed newsletter, delivered every Tuesday at 4:20 p.m.

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