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Kirby: Medical pot for pets? It's not natural

Published December 10, 2013 7:53 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Years ago, I had a cat named Gadianton. A stone-cold killer without morals, he was named after the arch-villain in the "Book of Mormon." He died of what was almost certainly a social disease.

Last week, I went to lunch with my friend Diane Herndon. Diane lives in Holladay with a cat named ... well, decorum prevents me from saying it. This is a semifamily newspaper. You never know when children and the Sunday school police might be reading.

Hint: The cat's name is appropriately the acronym first suggested for local light rail: "Salt Lake Urban Transit."

Anyway, Diane and I briefly discussed the growing trend of medical marijuana for pets. Would we allow our cats to smoke weed?

Answer: Yes. Not only would we permit it, we would, in fact, encourage it. Anyone ever know a cat that didn't need a serious dose of mellow?

As near as I can determine, the only drawback to a weed-smoking cat is the loss of dexterity it would suffer when time for a snack. You have be quick to catch mice.

I am NOT saying that I would force or even help a cat to smoke marijuana. That would be illegal. But I don't think it would compromise a cat's moral values because they already don't have any.

That could change. In Colorado (of course) some people are advocating the use of medical marijuana for pets that are in pain, physically and emotionally.

According to a recent Fox News story, a weed-for-pets supporter said, "So medication of any type that will help someone that is natural will help their pet as well."

Hmm, maybe not. Coca leaves are natural but I wouldn't be giving them to a cat unless you plan on getting new furniture and drapes.

Peyote is also natural but you might want to think twice about giving it to ferrets or monkeys unless they're already in handcuffs.

Just because marijuana is natural — although given the potential for genetic manipulation who can really say for how long? — doesn't mean it's good for your pet. Lots of animals naturally don't consume marijuana.

Case in point: woodpeckers. When observed in the wild, they do not naturally seek out marijuana plants and for good reason. Woodpeckers don't have lips. Neither do snakes, ducks, eels, sharks or Donald Rumsfeld. Typically you'll need lips to smoke weed.

What this means is that marijuana isn't automatically healthy for animals just because it occurs naturally. If you don't believe me (and really, why would you?) consider that, for once, entirely responsible people agree with me. People smart about animals. Veterinarians.

In the same Fox News report, a veterinarian claims "that since recreational marijuana has been legalized in Colorado, the toxicity cases in dogs have risen dramatically, which have resulted in death."

So the next time you're kicked back watching "Saturday Night Live" and getting baked with Max, please consider that it isn't good for him. It's also illegal and a waste of marijuana.

Personally, I would wait for official word from an expert such as "The Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan. If he says, "That dog will stop biting the UPS guy if you give him weed" it's probably safe.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.