A bill introduced this week in Rhode Island would allow veterinarians to certify pets for medical cannabis access for “any condition suffered by a domestic pet that would be a ‘debilitating medical condition’ if it were suffered by a person.”
The measure was introduced by Democratic Reps. Patricia Serpa, William O’Brien, and Stephen Casey.
Currently, no states with medical cannabis programs allow pets to be considered qualifying patients. Last month, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed legislation allowing veterinarians to discuss the use of cannabis and industrial hemp products with pet owners.
A similar measure was introduced in California in 2019 but was tabled and was not reintroduced during last year’s session as anticipated. Earlier that year, then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill allowing veterinarians to discuss cannabis therapies with pet owners without risk of losing their license or other putative actions, but that bill stopped short of allowing recommendations.
A 2018 bill introduced in New York to allow the state’s veterinarians to certify pets for medical cannabis access died in the House.
A study published last year in the journal Pain found that CBD treatment for dogs with osteoarthritis was beneficial in nine out of 10 cases. The researchers concluded that the cannabinoid treatment reduced production in both inflammatory molecules and immune cells linked to arthritis.
Last May, national pet supply chain Petsmart started carrying CBD extracts from Mary’s Brands in select markets in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon, and Tennessee. The company later extended the offerings in their online store and in stores throughout the U.S.
If approved, Rhode Island would be the first state in the nation to allow medical cannabis certification for pets. The measure was referred to the Health, Education and Welfare Committee.
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