Just as proponents of medical marijuana argue that the drug’s active ingredient THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) helps alleviate chronic pain, reduce nausea and stimulate the appetites of terminally-ill human patients, California veterinarian Dr. Doug Kramer recently argued that the drug can have the same therapeutic effect on sick pets — especially at the end of their lives.
Kramer got the idea from a patient who inquired about obtaining medical marijuana for her pet when steroids and other pain medications stopped doing the trick, according to a recent interview with Vice. Similarly, he claims the drug alleviated his cancer-stricken Husky dog Nikita’s chronic pain and stimulated its appetite. “At the first dosage, she was up and around,” he told Vice. “I didn’t cure her. It was just a question of increasing her quality of life and putting off inevitably euthanizing her.”
Kramer also claims THC can help stimulate cats’ appetites, and he told Mother Jones that people have used cannabis to help manage their pets’ inflammation from arthritis. One woman even gave her horse “cannabis-infused butter” to ease the painful swelling he developed from a foot disease called laminitis, Mother Jones reports.
His guide to concocting these home remedies for pets in the form of herbal glycerin tinctures is available for purchase on his website Vet Guru; the sweetness of the glycerin is supposed to make the solution palatable for the animals.
The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) supports this kind of treatment as long as the drug is indeed used for medical purposes and does not exploit its entertainment value. As PETA president Ingrid Newkirk told ABC News:
“Our position is that anything that can help animals – if it’s truly, properly administered in the right amount [and] can relieve a dog’s pain – then they should be given the same consideration that humans in pain are given…People amuse themselves by blowing smoke in a dog’s face to get him high or getting the cat drunk, and so, you know, that’s something that one has to guard against.”
Last week, Maryland became the 19th state — in addition to the District of Columbia — to enact a medical marijuana law.