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Cannabis – Opportunities in Animal Health – by “Friend of Cleantech Commons”, Dr. Paul Dick

Cannabis has a long history of use in humans,” says “Friend of Cleantech Commons™”, Dr. Paul Dick of Paul Dick & Associates (PDA), a full-service consulting firm for the human and animal health industries.

Archeological evidence points to it being cultivated at the beginnings of agriculture, over 10,000 years ago.

Dr. Paul Dick of Paul Dick & Associates – A full-service consulting firm for the human and animal health industries.

But while cannabis was legalized for medicinal use in 2001, and for recreational use in 2018, veterinarians still cannot prescribe cannabis for use in animals,” Dick tells us.

Read about the regulations regarding cannabis and companion animals here!

Cannabis and companion animals

Presently, veterinarians cannot prescribe cannabis for use in animals.

Phytocannabinoids have recently been added to Health Canada’s Prescription Drug List, which means that all animal health products containing one or more phytocannabinoids will be classified as veterinary drugs. The only cannabis-based products that are eligible for Health Canada’s Veterinary Health Products program are products containing hempseed, with less than 10 ppm THC.

It is important to note that there is mounting pressure from various stakeholders to add CBD to the List of Permitted Substances, therefore allowing CBD in Veterinary Health Products.

However, until the data has been generated demonstrating that CBD is safe for use in the target animal species, all phytocannabinoids are excluded from the Veterinary Health Products program.

To conduct research with cannabis, a Cannabis Research License is required. In addition, if this research involves cannabis trials in animals, an Experimental Studies Certificate will need to be obtained from Health Canada. To manufacture and produce a drug containing cannabis, both a Drug Establishment License and a Cannabis Drug License are required.

With the ever-evolving research on cannabis, the well-defined need for safer analgesics, and, the recent changes to the regulatory landscape in Canada, cannabis has been generating significant interest from both the human and animal health industries.

Cannabis has been found to contain over 421 individual compounds including; cannabinoids, terpenes and terpenoids, flavonoids, non-cannabinoid phenols, nitrogenous compounds and other compounds commonly found in plants.

The endocannabinoid system found in humans and all vertebrate species is a physiological system thought to be involved in the maintenance of homeostasis throughout the body. It is also the system with which the cannabinoids found in cannabis interact. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most well known of the cannabinoids and the compound responsible for the psychoactive activity of cannabis, interacts with the CB1 receptor of the endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, does not exert an intrinsic activity on CB1 or CB2 receptors.

But what does this mean medicinally?

THC, given its activity on the CB-1 receptor, is responsible for the psychoactive properties of the plant. It has also been shown to stimulate appetite and alleviate pain.

CBD, on the other hand, can counteract the actions of THC, thus reducing the paranoia and increased heart rate associated with larger doses of THC. CBD also creates most of its clinical effects by binding to the 5HT1A receptor; causing antidepressant, anti-anxiety and neuroprotective effects.

In addition to this, CBD has strong antioxidant and anti‑inflammatory properties. Based on current research, promising targets for medicinal use of Cannabis include pain, diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsy, insomnia, depression and anxiety disorders.

Cannabis was banned in Canada in 1923 – in 2001 it was legalized for medicinal use. On October 17, 2018, cannabis was legalized for recreational use, making Canada the second country in the world after Uruguay to formally legalize cannabis. The cannabis industry remains very highly regulated.

About PDA

Our friends at Paul Dick & Associates (PDA) have extensive experience with the development and registration of veterinary drugs and Veterinary Health Products in Canada, in addition to deep expertise in the area of cannabis and potential animal health applications.

If your company is looking to pursue the development and registration of a cannabis-based animal health product, PDA will be pleased to guide and assist you.

Please reach out to Kate Pecora, Executive Coordinator at, or visit their website at Tell them that we sent you – and that you are part of the Cleantech Commons community – to get loads of free advice!