California bill proposes to open veterinary cannabis conversations
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SB 627 would allow veterinarians to discuss cannabis and related products with clients without fear of sanctions.
A bill introduced in the California legislature could make it easier for veterinarians to talk to clients about cannabis in practice. Introduced by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, a Democrat from Stockton, SB 627 proposes to allow “a qualified veterinarian, as defined, to discuss the use of medicinal cannabis or medicinal cannabis products on an animal patient” without fear of reprisal.
The definition of a “qualified” veterinarian, according to the bill, is “one who has completed a medicinal CE program approved by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards' Registry of Approved Continuing Education.”
The California Veterinary Medical Association has voiced opposition to the “qualified” designation, stating, “The Veterinary Medicine Practice Act does not create a qualifying professional designation like this for any other drug that is prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. Consequently, we feel this designation for one product is inappropriate.”
In response, the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions proposed in its July 2 hearing to change all references to a “qualified” veterinarian to instead say a “California-licensed” veterinarian. “All veterinarians, by virtue of their license, have the education and skills needed to recommend drugs, including cannabis,” the committee asserted. “Whether a veterinarian chooses to recommend cannabis to their client would be subject to their own professional judgement.”
To allow veterinarians more freedom to discuss medical cannabis and related products with clients, the bill would DVMs “from being punished, or denied any right or privilege, for having recommended medicinal cannabis or medicinal cannabis products for an animal patient for medical purposes.”
However, veterinarians would potentially be subject to discipline if they did not follow the given restrictions:
- There must be an established relationship between the veterinarian, client and patient for which medicinal cannabis is being recommended.
- The veterinarian must specify the medical condition for which the product is being recommended and include the name of the patient and the patient's primary caregiver in the recommendation.
- The veterinarian must perform an examination and identify a medical indication before recommending medicinal cannabis or related products.
- A veterinarian cannot recommend medicinal cannabis if he or she has a financial relationship with a person or entity that dispenses medicinal cannabis.
- Veterinarians cannot advertise that they offer recommendations for medical cannabis, and they cannot actually dispense or administer cannabis or cannabis products to patients.
San Francisco-based marijuana grower Lovingly and Legally is a sponsor of the bill, as are the American College of Veterinary Botanical Medicine and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, which issued this statement: “Thousands of people are currently using cannabis for their pets with questionable advice from the internet or potentially unreliable advice from budtenders. Pet owners deserve the most reliable information possible regarding their pet's health and well-being. That information and advice is expected to come from trusted veterinarians.”
VetCBD, which sells veterinary-formulated CBD products, requested during the committee hearing that an amendment be added to the bill to clarify “that all adults age 21 and over would be able to purchase medicinal cannabis products for their animals, even if they had not received a veterinarian's recommendation.”
The Assembly Committee on Business and Professions listed a major concern being the lack of research regarding cannabis and animals. They noted that the Center of Medicinal Cannabis Research in California has done no studies on the efficacy of cannabis in animals. As a result, the committee suggested adding a research requirement-and providing funding for that research-in the bill itself.
The committee voted to pass the bill on July 9 and re-referred it to the Appropriations Committee.