Why Pols are Pushing Pot for Pets
A bill moving through the Legislature would allow California veterinarians to use cannabis legally to treat Duke, Tigger, and Snowball for hip pain, bad breath, and thunderstorm anxiety, among other afflictions.
The measure by State Senator Cathleen Galgiani, a San Joaquin Valley Democrat, also would likely expand California’s market for cannabis-derived products, which has been ever-expanding since voters legalized recreational weed in 2016.
“Pets Are the Hot New Cannabis Customer,” trumpeted a headline on the website of the financial cable channel CNBC, above a recent story reporting that “Sales of CBD pet products quadrupled last year to $32 million from $8 million in 2017.”
“The market could balloon to $1.16 billion in the U.S. alone by 2022,” the story added, citing the Brightfield Group, a “cannabis-focused research firm.”
Such pet products include cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound from the cannabis sativa plant. One type of the plant produces marijuana, which contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot; CBD comes from hemp, another sativa plant that has low levels of THC and alleged therapeutic properties.
So, hopefully, no kibble munchies.
All in the family. True Leaf, a Canada-based company, manufactures a range of representative CBD-based pet products, including “Calming Support” soft chews, “True Hemp Hip and Joint Sticks” and “OregaPet Dental Mini Treats.”
“The global cannabis for pets industry is taking off,” the publicly traded company proclaims on its site. “To ensure safe cannabis treatments for pets, it’s important to pay attention to current laws.”
The tangle of overlapping and often contradictory federal, state, and local statutes governing cannabis presents a thorny legal, political, and economic landscape, not only for manufacturers but also for growers, retailers, delivery services — and health practitioners as well.
Hence Galgiani’s Senate Bill 627, which seeks to extend to veterinarians the same legal protections California’s marijuana law affords medical doctors and osteopaths — while also protecting animals from stoner owners who might buy CBD stuff off the internet and overdose little Meagan’s kitty.
“Most people consider their pets as a member of their family,” Galgiani said in a statement supporting her bill.
“Some pet owners are unwittingly hurting their pets in the process, since their most trusted source of information, veterinarians, are legally prohibited from making a recommendation on type of product to use, the frequency of use, and other similar dosage concerns,” she added.
Talk about a buzz kill.
Another pot shot. As some outraged Santa Barbara County neighbors battle the sights and other hazards of the new marijuana industry, a San Francisco state lawmaker is pushing legislation to require local jurisdictions to issue more pot licenses.
Assemblymember Phil Ting’s Assembly Bill 1356 would establish a minimum number of marijuana business licenses required to be issued by cities or counties where voters approved Proposition 64, the legalization ballot measure.
The basic number: one cannabis license — for cultivation, manufacturing, testing, retail, or distribution — for every four retail liquor licenses.
Smaller communities, like Santa Barbara, would be required to issue at least one license for every 10,000 residents; this means the city would have to issue at least nine, compared to the three that the city council has approved.
“With over 57 percent of the voters passing Prop. 64,” Ting said at a press conference, “we still have 77 percent of cities not offering to approve licenses for legal cannabis permits.”
Marijuana Business Daily, an industry website, reports that 321 of the state’s 482 municipalities and 34 of 58 counties “prohibit marijuana businesses from setting up shop, underscoring the hurdles … entrepreneurs face in trying to break into the world’s largest legal cannabis market.”
Nonetheless, the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties both vehemently oppose the bill, noting that the 2016 voters’ handbook stated that if Prop. 64 passed, “cities and counties could regulate nonmedical marijuana businesses [and] also completely ban marijuana-related businesses.”
Ting’s bill still has a long way to go, but it passed its first committee hearing late last month.
A version of this post appears is published in this week's Santa Barbara Independent.