Cannect Group is asking the public to add feedback to its Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) application focused on rewording Schedule 8 (S8) cannabis and THC entries in the Poisons Standard to allow for veterinary access.

Currently there is no access pathway for vets to prescribe medicinal cannabis to their animal patients, with the proposed changes by Cannect Group seeing the language altered to include “human and animal use” in the S8 category.

Cannect veterinary clinical educator Marta Calvo Blanco said medicinal cannabis is a valuable and reliable treatment for animals with conditions which vets currently treat with opioids and other medications.

She added: “It is a welfare issue for animals not being able to access medicinal cannabis. I know at the moment many vets may be afraid because they don’t have the knowledge, but that’s what we’re here for, to educate and support.”

Carrie Newbold

Cannect Group director of clinical operations Carrie Newbold pointed out that preventing vets from accessing medicinal cannabis does not stop pet owners from illegally acquiring cannabis for their animals. 

She said: “It is the same issue we saw before 2016, pre-legislation for human use, the same situation is occurring now for animals and it needn’t be. 

“In the legislation we were originally talking about humans and other animals. We all have endocannabinoid systems, it absolutely works in the same way.”

Blanco said while owners are forging ahead of the professionals, they are accessing medicinal cannabis without knowledge and support, a key reason that a language change is needed. 

She added: “They might be using medication (cannabis) that can harm their animals because of the composition of the product and that’s a real risk. We are talking about a medication, and it may react with other medications that the animal is already taking.” 

While more education is needed for vets on medicinal cannabis, Cannect Group believes changing the language to allow for vet access is the first step.

The submission will be open for one month from the end of August.