California pet owners have new options in health care for their furry friends under a bill signed over the weekend by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. The legislation, AB 1885, formally legalizes
The bill was introduced in February by Assemblymember Ash Kalra and was supported by the Pet Cannabis Coalition, a group advocating for the legalization of cannabis medications for pets. Dr. Tim Shu, a veterinarian and the president of the group, said in a statement that the “passage of this landmark cannabis bill represents a turning point in veterinary medicine and creates a template for other states and countries to follow.”
“We founded the Pet Cannabis Coalition to provide a voice for the ones who can’t speak for themselves and to provide an integrative path forward for the veterinary and cannabis industries,” said Shu. “The passage of AB 1885 gives California veterinarians the freedom to speak openly with clients about the medical benefits of cannabis and will provide pet owners with access to pet-specific cannabis products. This is history in the making.”
With the passage of AB 1885, state-licensed veterinarians are now allowed to recommend the use of cannabis on an animal patient for potential therapeutic effects or health supplementation purposes. The bill requires the state Veterinary Medical Board “to adopt guidelines for veterinarians to follow in recommending the use of cannabis-derived products on an animal within the veterinarian-client-patient relationship,”
More Clarity for Legislation on Medical Marijuana for Pets
Under AB 2215, a bill passed by California lawmakers in 2018, veterinarians are allowed to discuss the use of cannabis on an animal for medicinal purposes with pet owners. But the legislation failed to clarify the point at which a discussion becomes a recommendation, which carried with it potential disciplinary action. Because of this lack of clarity, many veterinarians reasonably chose to err on the side of caution and forgo discussions of cannabis use for pets completely. That reluctance to even discuss the possible therapeutic properties of cannabis for animals left California pet owners without accredited advice and support for the use of these potentially useful natural compounds.
AB 1885 was passed by the legislature in late August after receiving strong bipartisan support in both the California Senate and state Assembly. The legislation also received a unanimous endorsement from California’s Veterinary Medical Board, a step not taken by the panel for previous similar proposals.
On Sunday, Newsom’s office announced that he had signed the bill, along with several other pieces of legislation related to cannabis, including a measure that protects workers from retaliation from employers for their off-duty use of marijuana.
Under AB 1885, cannabis compounds including tinctures, topicals, and chews can be recommended for administration to pets by pet owners, all under the guidance and support of animal healthcare professionals. Additionally, provisions of the legislation require that all animal cannabis products are tested for safety, potency, pesticides and other quality control measures, which the Pet Cannabis Coalition said will be “a huge benefit in terms of maintaining standards, building trust, and enhancing safety for California pets.
“In human medicine, cannabis has long been recognized as a therapeutic avenue,” said Shu. “For years we’ve fought to bring cannabis to the forefront in veterinary medicine, and this is a major step in the right direction. We are thus extremely thankful and appreciative to both Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Kalra for their vision and leadership on such an important matter, and for recognizing the distinct value and importance of cannabis as it relates to California’s beloved animal companions.”