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Pot for Pets? The Legal Landscape of Cannabis for Dogs and Cats

Dive into the 'highly' debated topic of cannabis for pets with our state-by-state analysis

dog taking cbd tincture from owner

As time goes on, we’re understanding more and more about the impact of marijuana. Studies on the subject have been slow, especially due to the fact that cannabis was outlawed for so long. The attitudes are gradually changing and we’re understanding more about cannabis for humans and for pets.

The legal framework around cannabis for pets is no less complicated than the framework for humans, which can lead to some complexities. On a federal level it is not allowed, but each state can set its own rules on cannabis.

Overview of Cannabis for Pets

While most are agreed that THC probably doesn’t have too many benefits for pets and that it is not necessarily something that should be given to them, cannabis and hemp products don’t all contain THC.

CBD products such as CBD oil for pets can have benefits as they are proven to work as anti-inflammatories and are linked with numerous other benefits for dogs and cats including a calming effect.

CBD can be helpful for nausea and vomiting, many types of pain, and inflammatory bowel diseases, which makes it a popular choice when using marijuana as medicine.

Cannabis doesn’t need to be smoked, of course, it can come in the form of oils and edibles.

Federal Laws and Regulations

The federal law and FDA regulations are clear. All cannabis with a delta-9 THC concentration over 0.3% is a controlled substance and is regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) under the controlled substances act.

The FDA states that “the FDA has not approved cannabis for any use in animals, and the agency cannot ensure the safety or effectiveness of these products”

Legality of Cannabis for Pets in Different States

The laws do vary from one state to the next. Florida allows the use of hemp-derived cannabis products as long as they don’t have 0.3% THC content in them, and in Michigan there is a bill that allows veterinarians to consult with pet owners about the use of marijuana and hemp-derived CBD oils and similar products, though they cannot explicitly provide them.

CBD Laws By State

Each state has its own unique take, just like the laws on cannabis for human consumption.

Safety Considerations for Cannabis Use for Pets

Studies have shown a lot of promise in the use of CBD-related products and medical marijuana products for dogs, but it is still toxic in high doses, so it is crucial that pet owners are always responsible when it comes to cannabis use, and make wise decisions for their pets.

Many products, such as topical CBD oils, pose very little risk but can potentially have benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties for dogs. It may also be good for killing pain and for epileptic seizures, it may also be good for dogs who have anxieties, such as separation anxiety.

Keep your cannabis products safely stored away and out of reach of pets and seek veterinarian advice when required.

Legal Considerations for Veterinarians

Veterinarians always need to know what they are allowed to prescribe, and in the majority of instances they are not allowed to prescribe pets with any cannabis-derived products. This is due to the law in the US at the federal level. If they were to prescribe, then veterinarians could face legal action or be responsible for any toxic reaction.

Though we can get cannabis for humans at a cannabis dispensary, pets do not have an equivalent. Some Rhode Island dispensaries will issue cannabis products to dogs with a note from a vet.

Is it Illegal for Veterinarians to Prescribe Cannabis

It is illegal for veterinarians to prescribe cannabis in any state due to the federal law on the substance. However, there are varying definitions of what constitutes cannabis, and some hemp-derived products may be suitable for pets.


The laws on cannabis are very complex, and this means for pets as well as for humans. Unfortunately, it is not a case of one simple rule, but it varies from one state to another. Even though the federal law is clear, local regulations muddy the water somewhat. States are still catching up when it comes to setting regulations for cannabis for pets.

Lizz Caputo is the Manager of Content Strategy at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.

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