ALBANY — Medical marijuana would be going to the dogs, if a state lawmaker gets her way.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) introduced legislation this week that would give licensed veterinarians the ability to prescribe medical marijuana to animals.
Paulin argued that animals suffer many of the same maladies as human patients and would likely benefit from medical marijuana.
“Why not make this tool available?” she told The Daily News.
Paulin’s bill, which has yet to find a sponsor in the GOP-controlled Senate, was modeled after similar legislation introduced in California.
The New York State Veterinary Medical Society, however, said Paulin’s bill gives them paws, er, pause.
Susan Wylegala, a Buffalo veterinarian and past president of the Veterinary Medical Society, said that while pet owners are increasingly asking about medical marijuana for their animals, there is not enough research about the drug’s impact.
“There are still plenty of risks of adverse reactions,” Wylegala said. “We just don’t want to go ahead and start prescribing treatments that we don’t have adequate information on.”
Paulin said she hopes to meet with members of the veterinary community in the coming days to help build support.
In California, lawmakers are considering legislation that would require that state’s Veterinary Medical Board to establish guidelines for veterinarians “to discuss the use of cannabis on animal patient clients” and protect state-licensed veterinarians from disciplinary action for doing so.
The bill is backed by the California Veterinary Medical Association.
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), who sponsored the state law legalizing medical marijuana in New York, initially said “oy vey” when asked about Paulin’s bill but later said she was supportive of it.
“As long as they don’t smoke it, I am OK with it,” Savino said.
State law allows the drug to be used for only a handful of serious ailments and conditions, including cancer, HIV and AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and some spinal injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The program, however, has been slow to attract both patients — of the human variety — and medical practitioners willing to go through the state process required to prescribe the drug.
As of March 13, there were 47,597 certified patients and 1,503 registered practitioners, according to the state Health Department.
News of Paulin’s bill was first reported by Politico NY.
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