Veterinarians Seeking Changes to CA Cannabis Law

CA Veterinarians Gagged but Stepping Up?
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Who should be the gatekeepers of your dog’s health?

For the last 22 years of medical cannabis in CA, veterinarians have been prohibited from prescribing, furnishing or administering it to animals because of its status as a Schedule I drug under Federal law. California state laws prevent them from even discussing the subject with pet owners. This has meant that veterinarians — the key non-family people impacting medical decisions about pets in CA — have effectively been legally barred from discussing medical use of cannabis with pet owners. As a result, the possibility exists that the people behind the counter of adult use dispensaries will become those who recommend CBD for pets.  (See Figure left)

What You Can Do

Fortunately, the California Veterinary Medical Association is seeking a change in the law just this past month in response to many of their members’ desire to lead this nascent field, for animal safety. The CVMA has thrown its support behind legislation that would protect veterinarians’ licenses when they receive questions from clients with regard to the use of cannabis in animals.

Specifically, AB-2215 seeks to prevent disciplinary action or removal of a vet’s license for “having discussed or, if medically appropriate, having recommended cannabis for an animal patient.” This is an important step and we recommend that concerned pet owners contact Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who is the sponsor of AB-2215 directly to show support and the need for this legislation. In addition, the media is beginning to see the importance of this issue and the lack of parity with CA medical doctors who, since 1996, have been able to discuss and recommend cannabis medical treatments without fear of losing their license to practice medicine.

Client Support is Critical/Thank You

We at right:ratio support this effort and attended and spoke at the public hearing in Sacramento on February 21, 2018 when the matter was brought before the Veterinary Medical Board. We are very thankful for the scores of clients who responded to our survey and to those who submitted personal statements.

We delivered the data and letters to the VMB on 2/21. Our survey, small but we believe still representative, demonstrated that:

  • 97% of pet owners would consider medical cannabis if their pet was seriously ill
  • 87% have attempted to discuss medical cannabis with their pet’s vet
  • 97% would support veterinarians having the ability to recommend medical cannabis if they thought it was medically appropriate

We also attended and spoke again at a teleconference/public hearing held by the VMB on March 8, 2018 to again press for a change in the law.

Stay tuned: there is hope that California veterinarians will lead the way for the safe and efficacious use of medical cannabis.

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