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It sounds a little like an idea born in a cloudy Front Range basement, the ill-conceived brainchild of two teenagers more than a mile high. “Dude. What if we gave pot to your dog? You think he’d like it?”
As it turns out, maybe he would. Boulder-based Cannabis Therapy Corp is poised to capitalize on that surprisingly bright idea. No, they’re not in the business of getting your pets high. Instead, they’re selling ultra-low THC hemp-based supplements that promise relief for arthritis, chronic pain, nausea, and a host of other ailments in animals.
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If all that seems vaguely familiar, says Soren Mogelsvang, CEO of CTC, it should; medical marijuana-using humans have been treating similar conditions for years. All mammals possess an endocannabinoid system, the neurological framework through which cannabis affects physiological processes. Cannabinoids such as cannabidiol, the compound responsible for the success of the groundbreaking Charlotte’s Web strain of medical marijuana, target those systems in pretty much the same ways, regardless of species. “Something that works well for humans can also work well for our animal companions,” says Mogelsvang, who holds a Master’s degree in plant molecular biology, a PhD in cell biology, and has taught at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
(Follow the short, happy life of one marijuana plant in 5280‘s November 2014 cover story)
Through a recent licensing agreement with Seattle-based Canna-Pet, CTC has become one of a small number of companies in the largely unexplored territory of cannabis for animals. However, finding products that work well for humans is the company’s ultimate goal. CTC’s research arm, Peak Biopharma Corp, is heavy into research and development on medical applications of hemp for humans. Industrial hemp products only gained legal status a decade ago, and last fall, Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin harvested the first domestic hemp crop in 56 years. (Loflin now grows exclusively for CTC.) And that legal status is important; Canna-Pet and any subsequent human products are legal in all 50 states as over-the-counter supplements and can be ordered online. No need for marijuana legislation or a trip to a dispensary.
Still, cannabis for Scooby strikes leery customers as questionable. Isn’t this giving drugs to your dog? In short, no. It would take an entire pallet’s worth of products to get most canines high; an animal has to eat 1.5 times its weight in supplements to feel THC’s effect, Mogelsvang says. It’s just not physically possible. And increasingly, those questions are fading, like the rapid spread of medical marijuana’s acceptance turning both red and blue states green. “People who seek us out,” he says, “I think they get it.”