Marijuana and Veterinary Practice FAQ

Who has the ultimate legal jurisdiction over veterinarians in relation to marijuana??
The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which includes scheduling of all controlled substances. As DEA registrants, veterinarians agree to abide by the CSA and therefore are subject to investigation and prosecution by the DEA for alleged violations of the act.

Under which controlled substance schedule is marijuana classified?
The DEA classifies marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and several other cannabinoids as schedule 1 controlled substances. By definition, substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.

As DEA registrants, can veterinarians lawfully obtain marijuana or other schedule 1 controlled substances?
No. Registrant practitioners, such as veterinarians and physicians, are not granted schedule 1 clearance by the DEA and therefore may not obtain marijuana, THC or any other schedule 1 cannabinoids.

What is the DEA’s position on marijuana?
The 2013 DEA Position Statement on Marijuana reiterates in the executive summary that, “Marijuana is properly categorized under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. § 801, et seq. The clear weight of the currently available evidence supports this classification, including evidence that smoked marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medicinal value in treatment in the United States, and evidence that there is a general lack of accepted safety for its use even under medical supervision.”

What does federal law say about veterinarians incorporating hemp or hemp products into their practices?
According to the DEA, technically all parts of the cannabis plant contain some level of schedule 1 controlled substances (THC being the most common.) In a 2001 press release, the DEA clarified the status of hemp and hemp products and stated:

“While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, have been found to contain THC. The existence of THC in hemp is significant because THC, like marijuana, is a schedule 1 controlled substance. Federal law prohibits human consumption and possession of schedule I controlled substances. In addition, they are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for medical use.

The rules that DEA is publishing today explain which hemp products are legal and which are not. This will depend on whether the product causes THC to enter the human body. If the product does cause THC to enter the human body, it is an illegal substance that may not be manufactured, sold, or consumed in the United States. Such products include “hemp” foods and beverages that contain THC.

If, however, the product does not cause THC to enter the human body, it is a noncontrolled substance that may lawfully be sold in the United States. Included in the category of lawful hemp products are textiles, such as clothing made using fiber produced from cannabis plant stalks. Also in the lawful category are personal care products that contain oil from sterilized cannabis seeds, such as soaps, lotions, and shampoos.”

What does California law say regarding veterinarians incorporating marijuana into their practice?
California law cannot supersede federal law and, therefore, can make no provision for veterinarians to possess, distribute, administer, or even recommend marijuana or any other schedule 1 controlled substance to clients.

What is the California Veterinary Medical Board’s stance on marijuana and veterinary practice?
The April 2017 VMB statement titled, “Current Laws and Policies Regarding Marijuana, Hemp, and Animals” can be viewed here.

What is the FDA’s position on marijuana use in pets?
The FDA question and answer statement published in November of 2016 addresses marijuana and pets in questions 19-23.

Are there any FDA-approved marijuana formulations for animals?
No. According to the FDA, as of November 2016, it has not approved marijuana for any use in animals.

Is it illegal for veterinarians to carry hemp based products in their practices?
Possibly, but doing so presents a legal risk. Because there are no FDA approved formulations available (to ensure ingredient content and concentration), it is difficult to know what each hemp product actually contains. Furthermore, if a hemp product contains a level of THC that enters the body, it is considered illegal. Without further testing of products, knowing whether or not a product causes THC to enter the body is difficult. See questions 5 and 8 above.

Is it legal for veterinarians to recommend marijuana for pets?
Neither state nor federal law have provisions which allow veterinarians to recommend marijuana for pets.

This is for informational and general educational purposes only. It is not intended to take the place of legal advice nor should it be considered as a legal interpretation. Although significant effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information at the time of publication, the CVMA shall not be responsible for any errors or omissions, or any agency’s interpretation, application, or enforcement of the information presented herein.

Leave a Comment

Your feedback is valuable for us. Your email will not be published.

You must be logged in to post a comment.