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New Research Study in California Investigates the Use of Medical Cannabis for Animals

By Laura Kuhl
Jan 20, 2018

The School of Veterinary Medicine at University of California, Davis recently launched a research project to learn more about the use of cannabis products for pets. This project is the first of its kind when it comes to animals. Researchers with the university hope to inspire future research into the health benefits of cannabis for both animal and human patients with their survey.

Should animals use medical cannabis?

Veterinarians do not have a hard yes or no answer for this question yet. That’s why this groundbreaking research is catching a lot of attention in California. Dr. Jamie Peyton, one of the chief researchers behind this project, recently interviewed with the Sacramento Business Journal. She had this to say about the project: "With the increasing use of medical cannabis and the start of recreational use in January, the interest in using it for pets has really grown. The goal of the survey is to start the conversation about the use of hemp and cannabis products for pets."

Cannabis has many long-term benefits for pets, but only when administered correctly. The research at UC Davis is starting at the most basic level in order to uncover what a correct dosage of medical cannabis might look like by asking pet owners what cannabis products they use on their animals and the effects they have seen. From there, researchers intend to study how cannabis can be used to treat pain, seizures, and anxiety in animals.

As of right now, veterinarians cannot prescribe or even recommend medicinal cannabis for pets, and this means that pet owners only source of information is non-medical professionals. UC Davis intends to change this with their present research.

Why invest in medical cannabis research?

The New York Times reported that $500 million was invested in private cannabis companies last year. And the projected growth of the cannabis market in the United States was $9.7 billion last year as well. This kind of money can propel the potential of medicinal cannabis into the future of healthcare, for both human and animal patients.

With these kinds of profits, money needs to be put back into research and development. Medical marijuana is legal in twenty-nine states, but there is a definite lack of resources available to help healthcare professionals answer their patients’ questions. Doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and clinicians are all searching for tools to help them better understand the treatment options that are slowly becoming available as legalization difficulties continue.

The veterinary school at UC Davis is just one of the many institutions in the country determined to catch their research up with the law. “There’s no published, peer-reviewed study on the growth of the use of marijuana products on animals,” Dr. Peyton said in her interview.

Because of the federal scheduling around cannabis, marijuana and hemp, there is little to no significant research into the health benefits of the drug. The research underway at UC Davis is one of the first attempts to start a conversation around the medical use of cannabis in animals as well as humans.

If you would like to participate in their research study, you can access the survey here.

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