Friday, March 20, 2015

Pot for pets?

Sen Tick Segerblom introduced bill SB372 to the Nevada legislature on March 17 2015 that is designed to clean up the state's medical marijuana statute.  The bill also includes a measure that calls for state officials to issue a medical marijuana card to Nevada residents who own a pet that a veterinarian has deemed would be assisted by the use of marijuana.

Proponents of it's use on dogs and cats tout the ability of the drug to help with digestion, joint pain, end of life pain, support of the immune system as well as giving the pet a calm demeanor and healthy neurological function.  There have been very few studies though that are extensive enough to prove that there is a need for it with pets.  There have been cases of owners or veterinarians administering marijuana to pets and having very good results, especially with pain and end of life issues but no comprehensive studies.

What has been on the increase is accidental overdoses and exposures to medical marijuana that has been prescribed to humans.  Pets that have ingested it generally show signs of incontinence, lethargy, low heart rates, loss of balance and breathing problems.  It has been known to kill dogs as well, especially if they have gotten themselves into a stash and eaten far more than they should have.  Many vets have stated that they are unsure if the benefits to a few outweigh the danger it may pose to many pets.

Introducing this in a bill may very well be jumping the gun on the topic.  I would like to see some very solid proof of the benefits in comparison to the damage that it could cause to pets.  Making something available just because it has helped some pets in a climate of a serious rise in illness and death from accidental exposure to pets does not make it a good thing.  It is not a good thing either if it is being put forth because the business is pressuring for another market for marijuana either.

There are already plenty of drugs and treatments available for those pets that are suffering at the end of their lives.  It may sound harsh to some but we as pet owners also have the option of choosing to end a pet's suffering as well, something we have a difficult time doing legally when humans are involved. If my pet is suffering with a terminal illness, gaining six more weeks of time with them is selfish on my part.  My pet hasn't begged me for more time to spend with me.  Most of the time, they have known they are very ill and if there is no cure that will give them years with me, it is selfish to extend their time by days or weeks.  Before you judge me for my belief, I will state that I have faced those choices in the past and they are not easy.  Losing a pet or putting one down is never easy but I feel that when facing the end, I have to put my pet before my selfish need to drag their life out so I can be with them a little bit longer.

Put forth some very solid research that it is needed for pet owners and I will certainly consider changing my mind.  Until that time though, I think the bill is a good idea that needs to have the backing of science and a benefit for many.


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