Emerging Psychedelic Law ... what about veterinary practitioners? 🐾 🤔 🐾
Dr. Andre reviews a recent article on psychedelic policies - with comments from a veterinarian's perspective.
This post reviews a recent, interesting article from Mason Marks on THE VARIETIES OF PSYCHEDELIC LAW on emerging patterns of psychedelic policy. This article, while not peer-reviewed, gives a great review and summary - I learned so much from reading this - thanks, Mason!
This is great information for veterinary professionals to keep in mind and for animal caregivers to be aware of as the psychedelic legislative landscape begins to solidify around us - how does emerging psychedelic policy affect animal patients, veterinary practitioners, and pet parents?
As human interest and access to psychedelic substances increases, the veterinary industry should anticipate increased need for professional awareness and harm reduction education (HRE) around these substances in animals. Animal exposures, both accidental and intentional, to psychedelic substances are expected to rise in parallel to human access.
This trend is familiar to every veterinary professionals - if humans are interested in it, by association, the animals that share our space will also be exposed.
Veterinary professionals should begin to train team members on how to address accidental exposures in animals and to answer questions from animal caregivers about potential therapeutic applications. Similar to the trends seen with the emergence of cannabis medicine for animals… psychedelic medicine for animals will closely follow human science and medicine trends.
Why the interest in psilocybin?
Among the classic psychedelics, psilocybin is the substances most likely to be encountered by a veterinary practitioner in an animal accidental exposure scenario and where harm reduction education for veterinary professionals should begin.
Easy-to-grow at home, by the psychedelic-curious, and now decriminalized in multiple states and cities, psilocybin-containing mushrooms are a likely source of exposure in companion animals.
Multiple human emotional diseases appear to be responsive to psilocybin therapy such as treatment-resistant depression, alcohol-use disorder, and end-of-life anxiety. With potential therapeutic effects in widespread human-based diseases, the risk of exposure in animals co-housed with psilocybin-curious humans is dramatically increased.
“things”… food, objects, items… that humans find interesting and interact with on a daily basis are of increased value/interest to the animals in the household - if a human is growing psilocybin-mushrooms in a home that includes an animal and an animal is also a member of the household - harm reduction education (HRE) is needed!
Put your stash up high!! or in a locked room safely out of reach of your curious dog or cat (and child!)
Currently, psilocybin-containing mushrooms are sold over-the-counter in the Netherlands, and can be easily obtained on the grey/black market in the U.S. and Canada. The City of Denver deprioritized arrest for possession of psilocybin-containing mushrooms in 2019, and recently decriminalized the same in a state-wide ballot initiative in 2022.
Be mindful of waste products - take trash outside, close and lock the trash bin, be aware that waste products from extraction procedures contain concentrated amounts of psilocybin.
Even human vomit with undigested mushroom pieces can be psychoactive if licked up by a curious dog or cat.
According to this article, mounting clinical data on safety and efficacy along with the lack of disastrous effects post-decriminalization - psilocybin is likely to be included in every piece of state and local legislation relating to psychedelic policy.
So what does that mean for veterinary practitioners… increased risk of exposure AND increased interest from our clients on potential therapeutic use in their animals.
And for the intrepid veterinary practitioner… do these novel medicines offer a novel solution for intractable behavior conditions in our animal patients… 🤔
What about ketamine?
Although not always counted in the ‘psychedelic substances’ category, ketamine is a new in-the-home risk for companion animals. With the surge of businesses such as Mindbloom, at-home ketamine kits increase the risk of animal exposures.
Companies working in the “send you a substance at-home” industry should carefully instruct human patients to restrict access (from both children and animals) to these substances.
Is this just ‘cannabis’ all over again?
Veterinary practitioners are frequently witnesses to the effects of shifting legislation and socioeconomic factors on vulnerable populations… such as companion animals living within a family-unit. A recent example of the collateral effect of human-driven legislation and socioeconomic factors on animal exposures can be seen in the emerging cannabis industry.
Relating to cannabis, there were significantly higher odds of an intoxication report in states with lower penalties for cannabis use and possession. Similarly, states with lower penalties for psychedelic substances should expect increase incident of animal exposures.
Do you know of an animal exposure to a psychedelic substance? Contribute to our data collection project with this anonymous exposure survey!
Research into the use of psychedelic substances (particularly MDMA and psilocybin) by human patients is showing great promise in the treatment of human mental health conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has applied the designation of “breakthrough therapies” for treatment-resistant PTSD and depression in humans (Reiff, 2020).
As a veterinary practitioner… the important question we should be asking is … could psychedelic substances hold potential for similar behavioral conditions in animal patients?
Currently, all psychedelic substances are federally illegal, even if decriminalized or legalized at a state level. All psychedelic substances are all listed at Schedule 1 substances on the DEA controlled substances list. Importantly, as the FDA and DEA, state regulations shift… these changes affect veterinarians (many of whom are DEA license holders). Our professional medical associations should be actively creating for “how do we handle this” clinical best practices and advocating for guidelines in this emerging field.
From both the human and veterinary patient perspective… we should, at the very least, be asking these questions about therapeutic potential in our patients. Continued research on efficacy of psychedelic substances in both animal and human patients is warranted.
What does this mean for veterinary practitioners
Veterinary practitioners are on the leading edge of societal change - we will be among the first to see negative consequences of accidental exposures .. but we may also be the first to ask some paradigm-shifting questions: what potential do psychedelics hold for animal health and wellbeing?
If you are a veterinary professional, reach out and ask your Veterinary Medical Associations (VMA) to be actively vocal in this period of shifting legislation and publish best practice guidelines —> ESPECIALLY if you are practicing in a decriminalized state!
In the midst of this legislative change and scientific breakthroughs - make sure you’re still covering the basics. Talk to your clients about exposure prevention and harm reduction.
And remember, the chocolate in the psilocybin-containing sweet is more dangerous to your canine patient than the psilocybin is - practice what you know and detox the patient.
We got this! 🙌
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