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Veterinarians Press Ottawa to Approve Medicinal Cannabis as a Safe Treatment for Pets

May 15, 2019

OTTAWA - The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine (CAVCM) are calling on the federal government to make two changes to the cannabis regulations to better protect the health and safety of pets.

Veterinarians rallied with pet owners on Parliament Hill to address two important changes to the Cannabis Act. “Changes are needed to protect pets and companion animals. Warning labels need to be changed to explicitly advise Canadians to keep these products out of the reach of pets and regulations need to be updated to permit veterinarians to consult with pet owners seeking to use cannabis as a therapeutic treatment and to authorize appropriate products and doses,” said Dr. Terri Chotowetz, President of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Sarah Silcox, President & Director of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine, noted that with the rising use of medical cannabis by Canadians and the legalization of recreational products, veterinarians are now frequently fielding questions from pet owners about the potential therapeutic benefits of using cannabis for pets for a range of conditions including the alleviation of pain, arthritis, anxiety, seizures, and behavioural conditions. She noted that under the current cannabis regulations veterinarians cannot authorize the use of cannabis for their patients.

"Since there is no legal pathway when it comes to pets, many pet owners are resorting to using potentially dangerous products intended for human consumption or seeking out products from the illicit market without proper guidance and oversight from their veterinarians,” said Silcox.

Dr. Ian Sandler of Grey Wolf Animal Health noted that “cannabis products currently marketed for animals are not in compliance with Canadian regulation and are not regulated by any agency. Products intended for humans may be completely inappropriate for pets as some contain significant levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to which pets, particularly dogs, have proven to be very sensitive."

The CVMA and the CAVCM are calling on the government of Canada to:

  1. Amend warning labels on THC-containing products to include a warning statement (e.g. “Keep out of reach of children and animals”).
  2. Amend Part 14 of the Cannabis Regulations to allow veterinarians to provide necessary medication to their patients while maintaining an arms-length oversight on its dispensing.

Chotowetz noted that these two amendments have the potential to affect millions of Canadians as two-thirds of households have at least one pet or companion animal.

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About the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
Established by an Act of Parliament in 1948, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is the national and international voice for Canada’s 13,000 veterinarians. Its membership comprises Canada’s authoritative expertise on veterinary science, animal health and welfare, and veterinary public health.

About the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine
The Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine is a national non-profit corporation founded by a group of veterinary professionals. We advocate for veterinary access to cannabis and work closely with veterinary associations and Health Canada to improve our understanding of cannabis-based therapies for animals, and to improve our clients’ ability to access these therapies.

For further information, please contact:

Matthew Don Trapp
Matthew.trapp@hkstrategies.ca
613-805-0545