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Pets and pot: the medical marijuana debate gets furry

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The legalization debate has been raging for a while when it comes to human use of medical marijuana, and now our furry friends are part of the discussion.

Dr. Doug Kramer made some house calls this weekend. The SoCal veterinarian was helping people end the suffering of their pets. While euthanasia is common for extremely old or terminally ill animals in pain, the idea of treating that pain with cannabis is alarming to some—despite legalization of medical marijuana for humans in 18 states and the District of Columbia, so far.

Kramer, whose outspokenness on medicinal pot for pets put him in the national spotlight, believes attitudes come down to personal experience:

“For example, they may be opposed to medical marijuana until a member of their family is in a position to benefit from its therapeutic properties.” In his mind, family includes beloved pets like his own dog, whose quality of life was reportedly boosted by cannabis in her final weeks.

“I feel that one of the biggest challenges has been trying to convince my colleagues and other skeptics to look at the issue objectively,” Kramer says. “The existing scientific research, clinical trials and case reports clearly indicate that more studies are warranted.” Key studies can’t happen, however, while cannabis remains on the federal government’s list of Schedule 1 drugs with no “accepted medical use.”

Confronted with the media’s photo illustrations, like a grinning “stoned” dog and a kitten smoking a joint (thanks for that, Mother Jones), Kramer insists that most people are taking the notion of veterinary cannabis seriously. His blog details its medicinal history (apparently, it alleviated horse ailments in ancient Greece) and the nuances of today’s debate. He’s willing to take heat for his vocal stance because he believes marijuana has powerful potential to help a lot of animals and that any “advocacy or activity that works to remove the general stigma attached to cannabis will ultimately benefit both human and animal patients.”

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