In recent years people and pet owners have been inundated with cannabidiol (CBD) products. Widespread availability and Internet “buzz” have made over-the-counter hemp-based CBD very popular.
To clear the confusion, let’s review some definitions. All medical cannabis is derived from the plant Cannabis sativa. Cannabis plants that naturally produce GREATER than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabidiol (TCH) are considered to be “marijuana” and are federally illegal. Conversely, plants producing LESS than 0.3% THC are considered to be “hemp” and as of 2018 are federally legal. Nutritional supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); while pharmaceutical drugs are. Therefore, most hemp-based CBD products available are sold as nutritional supplements to keep the FDA at a safe distance. The makers of CBD products are very careful in labeling, advertising and marketing to make sure there are no “drug claims’ to suggest their product is a pharmaceutical.
The FDA has not established standards for cannabidiol products, whether for human or animal use, making it difficult for consumers to know if products are safe, effective and contain what they are supposed to contain, says AVMA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Gail Golab. A handful of clinical trials have been promising for anxiety, cancer, seizures, gastrointestinal support and pain; but more research is needed.
People who give their pets CBD products are doing so without clinical studies or medical testing that proves safety, proper dosing and efficacy. Pet owners should inform their veterinarian about any CBD products they are giving their animal and how much.
Stay tuned because the medical and legal landscape for these cannabidiol (CBD) products is ever-changing. As your veterinarian whose job is to keep your animals healthy, above all, I will do no harm!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Dr. Bonnie Harris