Products promising to alleviate a beloved pet’s pain with CBD oil or THC have long been available to consumers – but Michigan veterinarians are currently operating in a legal gray area when talking about those products with pet owners.
Many Michigan lawmakers are hoping to change that. This week, a bill that would let veterinarians consult with pet owners about the use of marijuana or industrial hemp products for their animals passed the Michigan House unanimously.
Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Houghton, sponsored the bill after learning from veterinarians in his district that while clients often have questions about how products containing CBD or THC could affect their pet’s health, state law doesn’t explicitly allow veterinarians to discuss the pros and cons of the products with pet owners.
Veterinarians also aren’t technically allowed to initiate discussions about whether a pet has been exposed to marijuana – which experts say can pose problems for treating animals, as THC can interact with other medications or cause medical issues in the event of an accidental overdose.
“We must make sure our veterinarians are able to have open and honest conversations with people about using products containing CBD oil and marijuana to care for their pets,” Markkanen said in a statement following the passage of his bill.
In January, the House Agriculture Committee heard from veterinarians that the law could help lead to better information and research about appropriate uses and side effects for animals, and also help pet owners get trusted medical advice on the products instead of having to research it on the internet.
“Without the correction, it holds our hands behind our backs in properly advocating what would be proper for their pet,” Dr. Kellie Holmstrom, a Marquette veterinarian who helped inspire the legislation, previously told lawmakers.
Michigan has allowed medicinal marijuana use since 2008, and hemp and recreational marijuana were legalized in 2018. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a hemp-derived extract that can be added to oils and lotions and is used as a natural remedy for anxiety, insomnia, depression and pain.
Sales of CBD pet products have increased rapidly throughout the country, increasing from $8 million in 2017 to $32 million in 2018, according to the Brightfield Group. The firm estimates the CBD pet market could reach $1.16 billion nationwide by 2022.
The legislation, House Bill 5085, is now before the Michigan Senate. It would need to pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to become law.