A bid to reword Schedule 8 cannabis and THC entries in the Poisons Standard to allow for veterinary access has been rejected by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The proposal would have allowed for the therapeutic use of cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinols (THCs) in animals under Schedule 8, except those bred for human consumption.
However, in an interim decision, the TGA Delegate rejected the move based on advice from the advisory committee on medicines and chemicals scheduling.
The committee said the benefits “have not been adequately established and are likely outweighed by the risks presented by the toxic effects, as evidenced by veterinary presentations of pets inadvertently poisoned by cannabis”.
It also expressed concern about the “small but significant risk of inadvertent diversion to children if the product is in the form of an ‘edible treat’.”
While acknowledging the potential use of cannabis and THC for animals in pain or for the management of epilepsy and anxiety, the committee said the application “failed to provide evidence of therapeutic value… in animals”.
It said although cannabis ingestion is rarely fatal to companion animals, it can cause morbidity and cited reports of accidental ingestion by children, “causing significant toxic effects”.
The committee said appropriate therapeutic doses for the substances in animals had not been established and no specific products had been registered.
It added: “The potential for abuse of products containing these substances has been established previously, as indicated by the existing entries in Schedules 8 and 9 of the Poisons Standard.
“The risk of misuse and diversion of animal medicines containing cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinols may be mitigated by the cost, addition of unpalatable flavourings, and the relatively small doses (particularly when intended for companion animals).”
The Delegate concluded: “On balance, the limited demonstrated clinical benefit from the use of cannabis and THCs in animals is presently outweighed by the potential risks to animal industries, animals per se and young children. Therefore, I have decided to retain the current scheduling for these substances.”
Currently, only cannabidiol (CBD) is available to vets to prescribe to animals in their care as a Schedule 4 medicine.
Cannabiz understands the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association is assisting two of its members to prepare and submit a response to the interim decision.
To read the full judgement, click here.