Everyone who remembers the cartoon character Scooby Doo has questioned the implied drug use of Shaggy and Scooby. The scruffy slacker Shaggy and talkative dog Scooby Doo show many signs of marijuana use. The two are constantly hungry and get their ‘high’ from Scooby Snacks. Their primary motivation for solving mysteries is the promise of a Scooby Snack as a reward. The show’s insinuation of marijuana use leads many to question, “Is Scooby Doo a dog on pot?”
Following the recent legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in several states, Scooby is no longer the only pet consuming marijuana. Pet owners have begun to use medical marijuana for the ailments and maladies of their dogs. While cannabis has posed a potential solution to the medical problems of pets, the treatment of animals with medical marijuana has yet to be officially approved. While there are seemingly many positive health benefits of cannabis for pets, many people struggle with the ethical implications of this idea.
The controversy surrounding the use of medical marijuana for pets stems from the controversy surrounding human use of medical marijuana. People already struggle with the legalization of marijuana use for humans. Do the ethical implications change when applied to animals? Because there is little reason to believe marijuana is harmful, do the potential health benefits for pets outweigh uncertainties about the new application of the drug?
Oftentimes, owners with suffering pets see no other option, and wish to help them by any means necessary. While “putting a pet out of its misery” once meant putting an animal down, pet owners now have a new option to ease their suffering. Owners can turn to marijuana in a myriad of situations, like when pets suffer from seizures, inflammation, arthritis, anxiety and allergies. The drug truly puts the animal out of its misery.
Moreover, some owners have reported seeing a noticeable difference in their pets’ attitudes. A cat that whimpers and hides from people may become a social cat that snuggles with its owner. A lethargic dog that lays around from pain may become playful. Scooby Doo, a dog unwilling to solve crimes, becomes the brave Great Dane we all know and love. These pets, due to the use of medical marijuana, return to their normal selves, or become a new animal entirely. I think anyone with a pet would likely consider these to be positive effects and support the approval of medical marijuana for their pets.
Despite the benefits that pot can have for pets, the FDA has yet to authorize its use for animals. While pet owners can attest to the positive effects of pot on their pets, there is little scientific evidence to corroborate the improvement of pets’ health and attitudes. Furthermore, there are countless accounts of animals ending up in veterinary hospitals due to people giving pets human doses of medical marijuana.
The cannabis plant has a cannabinoid called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that is toxic to animals. So while THC is the part of marijuana that causes the human “high,” if given in a large dose, it can be lethal to animals. To avoid this, producers of veterinary cannabis only use a cannabinoid called CBD (cannabidiol), which has all the health benefits without the high.
While the use of marijuana for pets is certainly increasing in popularity among owners, it may take a while before the FDA approves this treatment. This is a controversy that – similar to the legalization of recreational marijuana for humans – will be handled state by state.
Many critics are unnerved by legalizing marijuana for people, let alone animals. However, marijuana is less destructive than pain killers and is a more effective pain reliever. Ultimately the pros outweigh the cons.
I believe that this, as well as support from pet loving people, will lead to the eventual legalization of veterinary marijuana. People will do anything for their pets. Maybe the phrase, “How about a Scooby Snack?” will be commonplace in the future.
Kailey Favaro ’20 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from Crystal Lake, Ill. Her major is undecided.