The Veterinary Cannabis Society, the first U.S. non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization focused on raising awareness of cannabis as a medicine for animals, just launched its website and educational portal for veterinarians, pet parents and cannabis product companies. The Veterinary Cannabis Society (VCS) was created in 2020 after a team of dedicated veterinarians and cannabis industry leaders identified the glaring gap in education around the safe and appropriate use of cannabis for treating animals. The mission of VCS is to create lasting solutions that ensure the safe use of cannabis in pets through education, advocacy, and promoting product standards.
VCS offers a wide range of resources for veterinarians in search of alternative tools to better help their patients, as well as helping pet parents who are curious about how cannabis can be used effectively for their pet. Educational resources such as critically reviewed articles, a curated research library, podcasts, videos and presentations are made available to VCS members.
Updates on local, state, and federal developments will be highlighted on the site, as an added benefit for members and non-members who follow the cause. Being knowledgeable about these updates is critical for practicing veterinarians, since the majority of the state veterinary medical boards are not taking a solid stance for either hemp or high-THC cannabis products, complicating matters for vets who want to understand the legal parameters within their specific state. VCS is working to promote policies and sensible legislation in states where cannabis is legal, to ensure veterinarians will be able to safely recommend cannabis for their patients.
“Veterinarians today struggle to discuss cannabis with pet parents, as they either lack the knowledge or want to avoid potential legal implications. No veterinarian should have to risk their license or livelihood simply because they are trying to do what is right for their patient,” said Dr. Trina Hazzah, 15-year Integrative Veterinary Oncologist and President & Co-Founder of VCS. “What we are a striving for is an educated and empowered global veterinary medical cannabis community,” Hazzah added.
The non-profit works alongside leading executives in the cannabis industry who create pet products, providing guidance and recommendations for meeting pet safety standards.
“Despite some individuals’ prejudices about cannabis, we must recognize the research that has been published thus far, pointing to cannabis as an effective medicine that, when used appropriately, is safer than many of the pharmaceuticals veterinarians use every day. However, before recommending a product, we need to make sure the product meets certain safety and quality benchmarks that may vary from the existing framework for human products,” said Dr. Gary Richter, Vice President & Co-Founder of VCS.
VCS welcomes veterinary professionals, pet parents and pet cannabis product industry leaders to become members, offering a variety of membership options catering to the needs of each party:
- For Veterinarians: The Veterinary Professional Membership allows practicing veterinarians, students, or veterinary paraprofessionals to align with like-minded colleagues who are on the cutting edge of veterinary medicine. Veterinary members may be listed on the directory of VCS practitioners, connecting pet parents with cannabis knowledgeable practitioners. Various forms of educational content are also available, soon to include RACE approved lectures to satisfy state licensing requirements.
- For Pet Parents: The Pet Parent Membership provides curious pet owners with educational presentations, written articles, and access to the VCS podcast and video library. Pet parents can get answers to the questions regarding cannabis that their local veterinarian are unable or unwilling to answer through this annual membership. These members will also have the opportunity to join a growing community of like-minded pet lovers interested in alternative medicine approaches.
- For Product Manufacturers: The Product Industry Membership allows brand representatives to become part of a growing community of allied professionals, and keep apprised of advocacy developments on a local, state, and federal basis. Soon companies can also enroll products through the “VCS Seal of Approval” program that signifies a safe and label-accurate product for pet parents upon purchasing.
VCS is currently exploring opportunities for Corporate Partnerships with organizations wanting to contribute to the advancement of veterinary cannabis medicine, and is always welcome to individual philanthropic contributions. In terms of upcoming events, VCS will have a booth at the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) Conference, where the Co-Founders, Dr. Hazzah and Dr. Richter will present a “Veterinary Cannabis Q&A” session on Monday, October 4, 2021.