Legal Matters: No pot for Spot; illegal to obtain medical marijuana for pets

Could your arthritic, nauseated or pain-racked dog benefit from medical marijuana? And if so, could you obtain it in Maryland?

Answer 1, possibly, although no scientific studies of marijuana for canine ailments have been conducted, according to an undated article, “Can Dogs Benefit from Medical Cannabis?” published online by


Some pet owners across the nation are not waiting for studies. They have begun using a related product — cannabidiol (CBD), derived from hemp or cannabis — and some report that it has been helpful to their dogs or cats.

Answer 2, you cannot legally obtain marijuana in Maryland that produces a high for your dog. None of the practitioners certified by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to prescribe medical marijuana for humans are permitted to prescribe it for pets, according to William Tilburg, director of policy and government relations for the commission.

Medical marijuana can legally be prescribed in this state by physicians, dentists, podiatrists and nurse practitioners certified by the commission.

But the drug can be prescribed only to “individuals” or “persons” — the statute’s terms — that the prescriber has determined have a disease that meets the state inclusion criteria and that potential benefits would outweigh health risks.

State law does not provide permission for veterinarians to dispense medical marijuana to their patients, and some decline even to discuss it with their patients’ owners.

The potential difficulties that cause veterinarians to duck the subject means that Maryland pet owners may be unable to follow the advice of to consult their veterinarians before treating their dog with cannabis oil,

Why would anyone want to give his dog cannabis? Cannabis and related hemp products have been used to relieve a dog’s pain, stimulate appetite and treat seizure disorders, anxiety and nausea, according to an online article by Colorado veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Coates,

Like humans, dogs have cannabinoid receptors, which provides a scientific basis for the idea that marijuana could help dogs with specific ailments as it helps humans, according to the article.

Dogs don’t toke, but they swallow pills, take liquids in a dropper or munch treats — yes, the substance is available in chewable treats.

What the dogs are taking is generally CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical. Non-psychoactive means dogs taking it will not get high. The marijuana made famous in the ‘60s contains tetrahydrocannibol, a high-inducing analgesic and appetite stimulant.

The legal status of CBD, according to the website, is that CBD made from imported hemp is excluded from the federal law that classifies marijuana as a controlled substance.If the CBD is made from marijuana instead, it is illegal under federal law to receive, buy or distribute it.

What about cats? As with dogs, no scientific studies of benefits or downsides to cannabis for cats are available, although some holistic veterinarians are reportedly using it to treat inflammation, anxiety and pain. Some reports indicate cats may have gastrointestinal upsets from the doses.

The legal status of CBD administered to cats is the same as the status for dogs.