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March 19, 2015

Nevada lawmaker wants to legalize medicinal marijuana for dogs, cats

The Los Angeles Times reports that a Nevada state senator introduced a bill Tuesday that would legalize medical marijuana for pets under the supervision of a veterinarian. Coming from the desk of the bill's sponsor, Democrat Sen. Tick Segerblom, the bill would require the pet to have a certified illness.

The pet would need to get its own license, as it would not allow owners to administer their own pot to their dog or cat. Nevada is one of 23 states where medical marijuana is legal. 

The Times spoke to Segerblom, who explained the reasoning behind the bill, which includes a number of things besides the pot provision:

“People these days believe that marijuana can cure everything under the sun, from the inability to eat if you’re terminally ill to problems with your nervous system. So if your dog has a nerve disease or uncontrollable tremors, this might be able to help it.”
That analysis doesn't seem like one certified by a veterinarian, as noted by Nevada Democratic State Sen. Mark Menendo in the same Times article:
“I’ve never even heard of this. Are there vets out there who would even know if this works on animals? There are lots of questions.”
Well, as it turns out, there are those who have tried to find out. An article published in the American Veterinarian Medical Association in 2013 addressed the possibly of such treatment. The article cites Dr. Douglas Kramer, who ran a clinic in California and experimented with the drug on his own Siberian Husky named Nikita who developed terminal cancer:
“Nikita was wasting away, and she’d stopped eating,” he recalled. “I’d exhausted every available pharmaceutical pain option, even steroids. At that point, it was a quality of life issue, and I felt like I’d try anything to ease her suffering.” Dr. Kramer began feeding Nikita a small amount of marijuana. The dog’s appetite returned, and she appeared more comfortable during her final months.
Nikita passed away, and Kramer dedicated his life to applying marijuana toward treating pets until he died as well in 2013 at age 36.