For the donkey’s sake: Cannabis is not for animals

2nd February 2022

As more countries – rightly so –welcome medical cannabis and increasingly embrace the substance for recreational purposes, it is essential that caution is still practised. Less restricted access to cannabis – whether medical or recreational – could easily mean a higher risk of exposure to animals and children

Countless studies have demonstrated the potential harms that cannabis may pose to animals.

Thousands of studies have now concluded that cannabis is indeed a substance with many health benefits. Whoever denies the facts regarding the potential of cannabis can often find themselves in an awkward position, as the proof is already widely available.

Discussing something without looking into the available facts is, well, ill-advised, to say the least. Cannabis can really help a lot of people; particularly those with health issues, including some of the most severe physical or mental health conditions. The fact that medical cannabis is not universally available on the NHS is scandalous and history will judge those in power, denying millions of patients the medicine they need.

The movement around cannabis is growing; fingers crossed, we’ll see a change in how the UK polices the substance. London is leading the pack, but we really need a nationwide solution to help the most vulnerable in our society.

We also need a change in how the GPs and doctors look at the substance. It is not an exaggeration: millions of lives depend on the (lack of) education around cannabis.

Cannabis could very well be useful for everyone. I’m not saying it is, but it could be.

Despite these potential benefits in humans, however, cannabis is (largely) not for animals. Pet owners, farmers and others who find themselves around animals must understand the potential dangers cannabis brings if animals (pets, livestock) are exposed to the substance.

Yes, we’ve heard from some pet owners that CBD has helped their dogs/cats through difficult periods. Some studies are ongoing on the topic – that is also true; however, deliberately giving animals cannabis without consultation can easily harm them.

In the worst-case scenario, as it happened to some animals already, cannabis could be lethal.

Simply smoking or consuming cannabis near our pets has its risks. They can easily be intoxicated by inhaling second-hand smoke, eating edibles, or any form of cannabis, so extra care is required when pets are around.

THC, which is the most common psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, is believed to be the cannabis component that is toxic to animals.

A recent study, in which two donkeys were given cannabis buds, demonstrated the potential harms posed to some animals. The symptoms shown by the donkeys were familiar to those observed when people take too many edibles.

The donkeys showed signs of depression and lethargy, and the jenny (female donkey) demonstrated ataxia (abnormal movements), mild colic (gassiness), increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and decreased tongue tone.

While the donkeys recovered in 24 hours, the study is just another example of why those consuming cannabis should always be vigilant.

Cannabis is a substance that has all the potential to heal and help; however, clever use is the name of the game.

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