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Update on medical marijuana

May 25, 2017

In ongoing consultation with Health Canada about the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (federal government legislation) and how it pertains to veterinarians, the College has received further information related to this evolving topic.

The Office of Medical Cannabis has confirmed that the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations do not apply to veterinarians or animals; the regulations pertain to human healthcare practitioners and access for human patients only.

Much of the focus on this topic for veterinarians has not been on the use of medical marijuana directly with animals, but on the use of cannabidiol (CBD), specifically CBD oil. Both cannabis (marijuana) and cannabidiol are Schedule II drugs under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. As veterinarians are included in the definition of practitioner in this Act, veterinarians would be permitted to prescribe either substance if there was a legal pathway to do so. The Office of Controlled Substances at Health Canada has confirmed that there are currently no approved CBD products for animals, meaning there is no legal pathway to obtain these products for animals in Canada.

It is not enough that CBD oil or related products may be offered through a licensed supplier in Canada – the supplier must also be supplying a CBD product that is approved by Health Canada. Manufacturers would need to complete the approval process to get such a product approved for use in animals.

The College is aware that animal owners may ask their veterinarians about using products for their animals that contain active ingredients found in the cannabis plant. It is important that the public is aware that:

  1. There is currently no legal pathway for veterinarians in Ontario to prescribe medical marijuana to animals.
  2. There are currently no CBD products approved by Health Canada and therefore no legal pathway to obtain these products.

Health Canada can be contacted for additional information on cannabis or CBD products, or on the approval process for products for animals. For more information, contact the Veterinary Drugs Directorate at Health Canada (