For the first time in Canada, clinical trials will be conducted to test the use and efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) on animals.
Canopy Animal Health, a division of Canopy Growth Corp., one of Canada's largest cannabis producers, has received approval from Health Canada to experiment with the compound derived from marijuana to see how effective it is at treating anxiety in pets. To date, no substances containing cannabis have been approved for veterinary medicine in the nation.
Allowing Canadian veterinarians to prescribe medicinal cannabis compounds for treatment has been an ongoing battle. Leading up to the legalization of recreational cannabis across the country that began Oct. 17, 2018, veterinary officials had been meeting with the government body regarding this possibility.
In a December 2017 interview with Marijuana.com, Shane Renwick, Manager of National Issues and Animal Welfare for the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), discussed a meeting with Health Canada to discuss the issue of pets and cannabis.
“We're aware that there's a lack of research and a lot of unknowns about the nature of potential products, and certainly how components of these products would be useful in animals. We [also] realize there's a lot of potential,” he said at the time.
Fast forward a year and some of those discussions are starting to take shape as applicable regulations.
“During the development of the Cannabis Regulations, Health Canada did take into account the potential for conducting experimental studies and approval of veterinary medicines containing cannabis,” a spokesperson for Health Canada wrote in an email to Weedmaps News. “On Oct. 17, 2018, Health Canada added phytocannabinoids (including CBD) to the Human and Veterinary Prescription Drug List.”
Canopy Animal Health was the first to receive approval for these trials, but other qualified organizations may follow suit.
“In order to conduct veterinary drug research or studies, the current pathways continue to be available for drugs containing cannabis,” the spokesperson also wrote.
Health Canada's spokesperson did explain why it took some time to allow these trials to happen.
“For all research or studies to be conducted using a veterinary drug, the objective is to ensure that there is appropriate oversight to ensure the overall health and welfare and treatment of study animals. If the study includes food-producing animals, Health Canada also considers food safety information.”
There are vets who have admitted to already using CBD as a treatment for animals, including Dr. Katherine Kramer in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Dr. Shawn Smith. Both have verified the effectiveness CBD has as a medicine.
There is no set timeline for how long these studies will take, but at the very least, trials have been approved and undoubtedly the pet care industry will be closely watching.