PERSPECTIVES: Cannabis for pets? Part 2 of 3. The dispensary employee perspective…

With the growing number of dispensaries opening in cannabis legal states, budtenders and dispensary owners are increasingly encountering questions from pet owners. Will cannabis help my pet? What product can I use? How much do I give? In addition, cannabis product companies are looking to profit from this trend and are producing products for this population.
The number of both medical and recreational cannabis users frequenting dispensaries is rapidly increasing and those who have had success using medical cannabis for themselves will naturally want to see if they can get the same results in their pets.
So, what is the cannabis professional to do? How to offer help to this growing population? Can pets be medicated like people?
Budtender training has yet to become standardized in the industry and there is no mandate that they have any training at all. As such, there are various levels of expertise present in those working in the cannabis retail field. Those who seek to learn the skills of their trade have numerous options available for training; including online coursework, apprenticeship or other methods. Currently however, there are no specific courses out there for educating dispensary employees on the important information necessary to field questions on pets and medicinal cannabis use. This is understandable for numerous reasons. In the past, those who were using their cannabis for the pets were generally doing so on their own, in an experimental fashion and largely without veterinary supervision. It has only been in the past few years, as medicinal and recreational cannabis use has become more widespread and mainstream, that the notion of veterinary use has slowly become more acceptable. The field of medicinal cannabis in pets is still in its infancy in terms of research and general knowledge, so there is not a lot of information out there.
Budtenders looking to provide reliable advice may wish to seek information on the endocannabinoid system in animals, the differences between pets and people and the potential dangers involved. Pursuing education via medicinal cannabis websites, local cannabis knowledgeable veterinarians and current research is recommended.
Cannabis professionals need to stress to pet owners that there are no cannabis products that have been approved for medicinal use in pets and that pet owners must take responsibility for making informed decisions. In addition, they should advise pet owners that there are potentials for toxicity to animals, especially dogs, if they receive products that contain THC. Encourage pet parents to speak to their pets’ health care professional to see if their pet is a candidate for cannabis use and if so, medicate their pet under the supervision of their veterinarian.

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