Cannabidiol, or CBD, is found throughout the seeds, stalk, and flowers of cannabis plants, including hemp and marijuana. The naturally occurring molecule is not new — hemp rope appeared in Russia in 600 BCE, for instance — but its efficacy in treating both human and animal ailments has only recently been tested.
Folly residents and Canna Bonez founders Matt Mummert and Stacey Detlor say that the idea to infuse dog treats with CBD started a couple of years ago. "We live in a third floor apartment, and Stacey's dog Roscoe couldn't get up and down the steps," says Mummert. After taking CBD oil and CBD-infused treats, the couple says the almost eight year old pup is "like a new dog. He has an appetite, he runs up and down the steps, he plays with other dogs."
But is it safe?
"The same doctors who won't give a dog CBD will give them Xanax and have them messed up on prescription drugs," says Mummert. "They've done the same thing for so long now that there is a new medicine out there they don't want to try ... I think those people have the best intentions, it's just lack of knowledge."
It's lack of knowledge, though, that Charleston Veterinary Referral Center neurology and neurosurgery vet Dr. Katherine Crook says is the problem with prescribing CBD. "I think most vets are getting asked a lot of questions about CBD oil right now," says Crook. "I think the idea makes most of us (from speaking with my colleagues about it) pretty uncomfortable, because there is a paucity of true scientific literature to support its efficacy in pets so far."
According to a 2016 Washington Post article, humans have successfully used CBD to treat epilepsy as well as anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease, and cancer. But, there's a big but: it's not clear how CBD works.
As the author Kohn suggests, studying CBD is no easy task. "Scientists complain that laws and regulations put excessive constraints on their work. Although it doesn't make users high, CBD (both the molecule and CBD-rich cannabis) is classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug, which means they have high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use ... even those who believe in this power recognize that CBD medicine remains largely unexplored: Treatments are not systematized, many products are not standardized or tested, and patients (or their parents) are generally left to figure out dosing on their own."
Mummert says that although Canna Bonez has been well received, they've also run into a lot of people, including Detlor's old vet, who don't think animals should be treated with CBD. "It's a lot of miseducation," says Mummert. "People say, 'oh you're getting dogs high' and I say 'I'd be in business for 12 minutes if all the dogs we treated were actually getting stoned.'" A common misconcep tion about CBD is that the use of it will turn you (or your furry friend) into a red-eyed, junk food craving, nubile philosopher. Unlike THC, the high-inducing molecule in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive.
- Jonathan Boncek
Dosing for dogs, according to Mummert and Detlor, who say they both take CBD daily, is based on weight, and is, presumably, less than what humans take. And they claim success stories like a friend's 10 year old dog who had been in bad shape, then after using the CBD treats ran and leapt over a baby gate in the house.
"It's not just young or old dogs," says Mummert. "There are lots of anxious dogs. We've had dogs who had recent babies come into the family and then had to compete time with them. It's helped dogs with arthritis, inflammation, anxiety. Roscoe also had a large mass on his shoulder probably the size of a softball and now it's almost completely gone; he had lumps completely all eradicated. That's why we're trying to share this with people."
Dr. Crook agrees that there are "A lot of anecdotal reports about benefits and efficacy, as is the case with many supplements." But anecdotes do not an FDA approved drug make. "One of the other concerns is that cannabinoids are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as medications, and thus products vary widely (in formulation and in efficacy), and depending on the additives, some may be illegal from state to state," says Crook. "Most veterinarians who I have spoken to about this trend feel that CBD oil doesn't hurt, but it also may not really be beneficial. It may mellow the pet a little, as one might expect from a cannabinoid compound. Without case controlled medical studies, I feel it is difficult to recommend them thus far."
Dr. Brian King of Pet Vet in Mt. Pleasant, on the other hand, says he's been prescribing CBD — procured from local apothecaries — even before Mummert and Detlor approached him. "We use it to [help with] everything from pain to arthritis ... it can be useful for stressful situations for cats and dogs before they get a vaccine," says King. But he assures us he does not think this is some kind of miracle drug,."We use this alongside other drugs; dogs will take their regular seizure meds but will still have breakthrough seizures and taking CBD helps with this." King hopes that with the growing number of hemp farm permits being allotted in the state, we'll get to a point where we can better regulate CBD, providing doctors with more research and the public with more knowledge.
Detlor says their goal is to use locally sourced CBD, to help dogs, cats, and even livestock dealing with anxiety, arthritis, and inflammation. And the locally sourced mission is not just wishful thinking; in May, Gov. McMaster signed a bill that legalizes hemp's cultivation in South Carolina.
Mind you, this does not mean Charleston is the next Denver — while marijuana and hemp both come from the same plant species, Cannabis Sativa, hemp does not have the same concentration of THC, the high-inducing molecule. According to the Charleston Business Journal, "the new S.C. law defines industrial hemp as any part of the plant with a THC concentration that does not exceed 0.3% on a dried weight basis. Anything above that is considered marijuana and is illegal in the state."
Mummert admits that the use of CBD "is still relatively new, the industry has only taken the shift in the past 8 or 9 years when Colorado went legal," but he and Detlor are confident in their product, which they say is 99.9 percent pure CBD crystal. "I would never put a creature in harm's way," says Mummert.