(ANTIMEDIA) — American doctors, veterans, and even one child have lobbied the federal government to legalize cannabis for medicinal uses. Now, veterinarians are pushing Washington to reschedule the plant so they can conduct studies on the effectiveness of non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) in treating ailments in dogs and other pets.
It has long been reported that the federal government’s insistence on keeping cannabis illegal has made it difficult for researchers to study the potential medical benefits for humans. But prohibition is hurting efforts for animal research, as well.
Last year, when the DEA ruled that CBD would remain in the same Schedule 1 category as traditional cannabis, heroin, cocaine, and other drugs, some researchers halted their investigations. The University of Pennsylvania stopped its clinical trials. “The ambiguity in this process has really brought us to a screeching halt,” Michael DiGregorio, director of the university’s clinical trials center, told the Associated Press. “It is research that needs to be done, because there are a lot of CBD products out there.”
The University of Auburn’s Veterinary Medical Center is also bogged down by federal restrictions. Dawn Boothe, who works at the center, says they are waiting for federal approval to begin testing CBD’s effect on epilepsy in dogs. She lamented the “major, major, major, terrible roadblock” the government has imposed and said she submitted all of her research information to the federal government in January but still hasn’t heard back. “I don’t know what’s taking so long,” she said.
Overall, however, veterinarians are frustrated at the difficulties they face in trying to determine the efficacy of the plant. As hemp-derived CBD products (as opposed to marijuana flower-derived) flood shelves and consumers purchase them for their pets, concerns are growing about proper dosage and efficacy.
“The concern our membership has is worry about people extrapolating their own dosages, looking to medicate their pets outside the realm of the medical professional,” Michael Whitehair, chairman of the board of the American Veterinary Association told AP. “This is an important reason for us to continue the research.”
Further, the group’s policy-making body said last year that it wants to “to facilitate research opportunities for veterinary and human medical uses.”
Even Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, a conservative Republican, has advocated clearing the way for more research, sponsoring a bill in September to allow for more scientific inquiry. “We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils, not because researchers are unwilling to do the work, but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation,” he said, though he stops short of supporting recreational legalization.
At Colorado State University, researchers are currently studying CBD’s effects on osteoarthritis and epilepsy in dogs, and in Oregon and California, for example, veterinarians offer CBD products. Dr. Byron Maas, located in Bend, Oregon, offers a line of CBD treatments and says his clients report they help ease everything from anxiety to inflammation in their pets. Still, he still stresses the importance of research. “Unfortunately there’s not a lot of research out there, especially on animals, on CBD compounds,” he said. “The research is really necessary to help us understand how to actually use these compounds on our pets.”
Both animals and humans alike appear to be benefitting from CBD, but as the federal government maintains its stubborn stance on the non-psychoactive substance, many remain in the dark on the hard science and face continued restrictions on their ability to access the medicine.
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