The Marijuana Industry: Are Pets the New Marketing Demographic? December 4th, 2019 The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake
Blog & News The Marijuana Industry: Are Pets the New Marketing Demographic?

The Marijuana Industry: Are Pets the New Marketing Demographic?

Group of pets together in front of white background
There is no doubt that the legalization of marijuana in an increasing number of states across the country has launched a billion-dollar industry.

The production of the plants, use of those plants to create THC-laden products, the sale of those products, and even a travel industry around connecting consumers in states where the drug is still illegal to the locations where they can take advantage of its legal status are thriving.

One of the latest industries to be impacted by the legalization of marijuana is, surprisingly, the pet industry. A line of edible marijuana products is now being marketed to owners of pets who may – or may not – benefit from the medicinal qualities that marijuana may bring, per ABC News. According to PETA, the intent of these products is to provide relief from inflammation as well as some of the pain and discomfort related to end of life.

Is this a good idea? A crazy idea? Is it just one more way to introduce addictive substances into the home where others may abuse them? Or is this a viable and compassionate choice for animals in need?

THC vs. CBD

The big difference between these products and the medicinal marijuana used by humans is the active ingredient. Inedible marijuana products designed for humans, THC is the active component that causes the “high” experience as well as any medicinal effects. Inedible marijuana products created for animals, the active ingredient is cannabidiol, or CBD. This substance does not get animals high in the way that THC creates a high in the human user. The recommended dosage goes by weight: 1 milligram of CBD per 20 pounds.

Legal for Humans but Not Animals

Even in the states where medical marijuana is legal for humans, it is not legal for a veterinarian to prescribe marijuana edibles to an animal. Though some representatives of PETA may promote the use of medical marijuana for animals, there is always the risk that an animal will consume too much of the product and experience negative effects as a result. Because they are often sold in “treat” form, an animal may seek out the product and eat the whole bag, which could have a month or more worth of doses, depending on the size of the animal.

Dr. Tina Wismer is the medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. She says: “We get quite a few marijuana calls at Poison Control. Cats like the plant material better, whereas dogs like to get into the edibles. Depending on how much they get into will determine how aggressive we need to be. Most of the time they’re wobbly like they’re drunk, they dribble urine. But 25 percent of them become extremely agitated, which certainly is not something I would want to put my elderly pet through.”
If carefully monitored and certain advances are made, Dr. Wismer believes that there may be some positive uses for marijuana edibles for pets at a future date. She says: “Most of these treats have very low levels of CBD, so they are much safer [than when a cat or dog accidentally eats something of the human’s]. It looks like these certainly could be helpful products in some cases, but right now we don’t have enough information. Whether it’s THC or other cannabinoids, the problem is we have no therapeutic dose. We don’t know, ‘are you under-dosing your animal or overdosing your animal?’ These are the things we need to determine.”

The Medical Validity of Marijuana

There is an increasing number of studies that support the efficacy of marijuana in the treatment of specific ailments for humans. It is not a cure-all, however, and its efficacy should be better controlled than it is currently. As it stands, there is no standardization of dosing available.

Patients are simply given the ability to purchase the plants and edibles that have a wide range of THC potencies and the limits of possessing a specified amount at any given time. Usage is not well directed, and different types of plants create different effects in the user.

For animals, there are no studies on the efficacy of medical marijuana. However, the dosing issue is actually better controlled, so acquiring this data may be easier as compared to doing similar studies in humans. As Dr. Wismer pointed out, though, we may be a few years out from the products and evidence necessary to make this a legal and standardized practice in the veterinarian industry.

Medical Care, Recreation, Marijuana, and the Future

conversationIt stands to reason that as marijuana is legalized for medicinal and recreational use in more and more states, the marijuana industry will begin to hybridize with other established industries. It’s important for voters to remain aware of changes as they occur and to think through the potential impact that these changes may have on individuals, families, and the community at large.

Marijuana is an addictive substance, and an estimated 9 percent of those who try the drug will go on to develop a dependence upon it. If you are concerned that your use of marijuana has begun to negatively impact your ability to maintain at work or at home, treatment services may be the right option for you. Changing your life starts with making the decision to address the things that aren’t working for you and learning how to practice lifestyle changes that will improve your physical and mental health. Is today the day you begin making those positive changes for your life?

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.