Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Stoner Living: Marijuana and the Family Pets

Now that the days of prohibition are over, it's time to dust off a topic relevant to pot smokers around the world: marijuana and the family pets. Enjoying marijuana and pet ownership go together like bread and butter. And, whether or not it's admitted in polite company, many pet owners puff with the family pet. The ethics of this practice are debatable, but here at Stoner Living, we present you with a few points for consideration. While marijuana is non-toxic by virtually all accounts, its impact can be profound and possibly distressing to your beloved pet.

Most of arguments against pet stoning include the issue of having no way to determine if the pet has any interest in ingesting marijuana. William S. Burroughs included 'thou shalt not blow pot-smoke into the face of thy pet' in his 10 commandments. How can you tell if your animal companion likes getting high? It's tricky, and unless you are certain, consider reading this article before pointing the bong at Cujo.
So you think your companion animal wants to get high? Oy vey!
Because you can't ask your pet how they feel about marijuana, the best approach is to thoughtfully observe their behavior. One way of exploring a pet's feelings toward marijuana is to notice if they seek out or self-administer the experience. Maybe you have a cat or dog who comes around every time you smoke or vaporize marijuana. Or perhaps your loyal companion takes off the moment that distinctive smell fills the air. Understanding house pet self-administration isn't straightforward, as cats and dogs can't light their own bong or pass a marijuana cigarette. They can, however, remove themselves from a situation or insert themselves into the center the action and sit there enjoying the cloud of smoke wafting around them.

Pets can also eat marijuana, but accurate interpretation of the effects is complicated by the lag-time between consumption and the start of the physiological effects. Too much time between consumption and perception of the effects also makes edible marijuana a bad choice for our self-administration test described above. In fact, the major problems humans have with edible preparations of marijuana are also associated with this lag time. The story usually goes like this: "the pot brownie tasted good, but after half an hour I didn't feel anything so I ate three more. Then it came on all at once - I polished off the bean dip and woke up the next day at noon."

The story is similar for edible marijuana and pets. "An hour after Fido finished the pot muffin, I found him whining by the cat's dish after finishing his dinner plus our leftover spaghetti. Then he slept past sunrise and was groggy all morning." The time between eating marijuana and the effects kicking in can take an hour - long enough that it's unlikely your pet will associate the taste of the edible with any feeling that came from it. With smoked (or vaporized) marijuana, this lag time is virtually non-existent. The subjective experience of marijuana intoxication begins while the skunky smell is still thick in air. This makes it much easier for our brains to link the cause (marijuana) and effect (being high).

Research studies show that cats and dogs have cannabanoid receptor systems similar to humans. Although it is impossible to say, the fact that the basic biological systems are similar suggests that the subjective experience of consuming marijuana may be similar. It wasn't until the year 2000 that scientists could get to get animals to reliably self-administer marijuana. Prior to that, researchers found that some non-human primate individuals would self-administer it while others would not. Certain individuals just didn't seem to like it. However, research scientists have since figured out how to reliably get squirrel monkeys to self administer IV doses. Visualizing caged squirrel monkeys shooting up pot in a lab is depressing, but Stoner Living believes in the importance of medical research and we'll discuss ethics later.

The relative non-toxicity of marijuana makes it a compound of interest for pet owners exploring natural and alternative medicines. Medical marijuana gets rave reviews from patients suffering from pain and inflammatory ailments like arthritis - why wouldn't it work for pets? And if marijuana is less toxic to pets than chocolate or tylenol, do we have much to lose? At this point, we remind readers of the principal objection to to pet stoning - ie., how do you know your pet wants/likes to get stoned? If the physiological effects are similar to those experienced by humans, how can you be sure your beagle is any different from your cranky cousin Sarah who got super paranoid and hid in the closet the one time she smoked marijuana?

I-502 includes provisions for veterinary personnel and funds some research, giving the state of Washington the opportunity to allocate tax revenue and fund some of the world's first veterinary marijuana research. Due to prohibition, most existing veterinary knowledge about marijuana is toxicological rather than therapeutic in nature.

So, is it morally wrong to get your pet high on marijuana? A quick survey of pot friendly discussion boards online found a subset of marijuana aficionados think it is bad - very, very bad. Our research concludes that although it is unlikely to be toxic, marijuana may be an unsettling experience for a pet. Well meaning pet owners may exacerbate bad situations by administering medical marijuana for pet anxiety or pain - only to find out they have made their pet even more uncomfortable.

We encourage everyone to be kind and considerate custodians of their companion animals. Pets are vulnerable - they depend entirely on their owners for their survival and well being. We've seen pet stoning techniques ranging from the benign (sheepishly wafting a cloud of pot smoke the direction of slumbering kitty-kitty on the couch) to the criminal (holding a cat down to blow smoke it its ears). Our advice is to lovingly enjoy the company of your pets, pay attention to them and respect their choice if they want nothing to do with your pot smoking ways. And if we ever hear about you holding down your pet and blowing smoke in its ears, we're sending our goons to find you.

(c) 2012 - Stoner Living - all rights reserved

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