Similar to bans on citizen lawsuit based on alleged violations of the Federal Animal Welfare Act (see, e.g., Animal Legal Def. Fund, Inc. v. Espy, 23 F.3d 496 (D.C. Cir. 1994); Peninsula Humane Soc’y v. Walters, No. C 84-2010 SAW (N.D. Cal. Feb. 5, 1985) courts have dismissed lawsuits filed by individuals alleging violations of state animal cruelty statutes on similar grounds.

A good example is a case decided in New Jersey, Goldman v. Critter Control of New Jersey, 454 N.J. Super. 418 (App. Div. 2018).  In Goldman, the Court analyzed whether an individual could file a civil lawsuit against animal facilities for alleged violations of the animal cruelty statute.  In summary, the Court held there was no private cause of action, including, as alleged here, as a qui tam action under the animal cruelty statute, because the statute did not expressly permit such action.

Plaintiff Stuart Goldman, the former chief humane law enforcement officer for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Monmouth SPCA) and a trustee for two non-profit animal welfare organizations, “filed a complaint ‘by way of . . . qui tam’ against Critter Control defendants, for removing a female adult raccoon from the roof of a house but left behind baby raccoons who allegedly went without sustenance for a week as result of the removal, which therefore constituted animal cruelty.”

Plaintiff’s complaint against Simplicity Farms, alleged that Simplicity Farm defendants violated N.J.S.A. 4:22–26(a)(1)2 and N.J.S.A. 4:22–26(a)(4) by mistreating horses.

In both cases, Plaintiff asserted that he was filing the complaints on behalf of the Monmouth SPCA which he stated was permitted by statutes which stated,

a civil action [could be filed] by any person in the name of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, as appropriate, or, in the name of the municipality if brought by a certified animal control officer or animal cruelty investigator.

N.J.S.A. 4:22–26.  Originally filed as separate complaints, the Critter Control matter was dismissed for plaintiff’s lack of standing, as the Court held “[t]he statute was ‘plain and unambiguous’ . . . providing that ‘only select organizations, not individuals, may pursue a civil remedy under the statute.”

Plaintiff filed the complaint against Simplicity Farms because he “disagreed with the Monmouth SPCA’s decision not to pursue criminal or civil charges against Simplicity Farm defendants.”  “The judge rejected plaintiff’s contention that a private individual had authority under N.J.S.A. 4:22–26 to investigate or prosecute allegations of animal cruelty” and dismissed the case.

Plaintiff appealed both dismissals and the matters were consolidated.

On appeal in Critter Control, Plaintiff alleges he had standing to sue in the name of the Monmouth SPCA as a qui tam action and . . . [i]n Simplicity Farms, Plaintiff contends his complaint should not have been dismissed because the statute authorizes “any person in the name of” the SPCA to file a civil action.”

The Court upheld the decisions granting motions to dismiss, finding the Plaintiff did not have standing to sue in either matter, stating, “[w]e decline to construe N.J.S.A. 4:22–26 as authorizing private citizens, who otherwise would not have standing, to sue for civil penalties under the PCAA in qui tam actions against other parties, who they allege may have committed acts of animal cruelty.”

The Court rejected Plaintiff’s contention “that the legislature intended N.J.S.A. 4:22–26 to authorize qui tam law suits because it provides that ‘any person in the name of the New Jersey [SPCA]’ or county SPCA can sue for civil penalties.”

The Court analyzed the amendments to the State animal cruelty statute, amended by L. 2017, c. 331, effective August 1, 2018, which transferred the “power of humane law enforcement from the New Jersey [SPCA] and county societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (county societies) to a county prosecutor animal cruelty task force in each county, and a municipal humane law enforcement officer appointed in each municipality” finding

Given the many amendments of this legislation, we decline to interpret the PCAA as authorizing qui tam lawsuits.

Holding, further,

Indeed, the new amendments to the PCAA shift enforcement responsibilities to the county prosecutor task forces and militate against plaintiff’s contention that the law allows for private enforcement actions. In sum, we decline to construe the PCAA as authorizing qui tam lawsuits.

A recently decided case in North Carolina provides some guidance to landlords regarding their potential liability to a third party harmed by the pet of a tenant.  (Note- I refer you to an attorney in one of our N.C. offices for consultation in a specific case).

In Curlee by & through Becerra v. Johnson, 856 S.E.2d 478 (N.C. 2021), a “[c]hild, who had incurred severe injuries after he was bitten by dog, brought negligence action, by and through his mother, against dog owners and owners’ landlord, seeking to recover for injuries.”  Id.  On appeal, the Court upheld the court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the landlord.

In North Carolina, to prevail in an ordinary negligence claim, a plaintiff has the burden to prove, ,

(1) that there has been a failure to exercise proper care in the performance of some legal duty which the defendant owed to the plaintiff under the circumstances in which they were placed; and (2) that such negligent breach of duty was a proximate cause of the injury.

Id. at 481.

The dog in question in this case had apparently bitten a child previously, but there was insufficient evidence presented that the landlord had been informed about this history.  Applying a test set forth in another dog biting case, Holcomb v. Colonial Assocs., L.L.C., 358 N.C. 501, S.E.2d 710 (2004), the Court held here that the plaintiff failed to establish both,

(1) that the landlord had knowledge that a tenant’s dog posed a danger; and (2) that the landlord had control over the dangerous dog’s presence on the property in order to be held liable for the dog attacking a third party.

Curlee by & through Becerra v. Johnson, 856 S.E.2d 478, 482 (N.C. 2021).

Concerns about dog bites have escalated following the increased placement of dogs from shelter and rescue organizations where the dogs behavioral background and tendencies may not be known or provided to adopters.  Hence, landlords should become familiar with governing laws regarding their duty to third party victims of dog bites owned by their tenants.

The plethora of laws banning or limiting sales of dogs from pet stores to families seeking a dog for long term companionship, purportedly passed to shutter puppy mills, have done nothing to improve the lives of dogs bred and sold by substandard dog breeders, because they were never the source of pet store puppies to begin with.  What the pet stores have created, under the false banner that pet stores sell puppies from puppy mills, is the increased marketplace for dog breeders who either negligently or intentionally breed them for the retail rescue marketplace.

The retail rescue marketplace, in stark contrast to purposely-bred dogs by heavily regulated USDA licensed dog breeders, is largely unregulated and the health and welfare of dogs is ignored.  Dogs are increasingly being imported by animal rescue organizations, who should be, but are not licensed by USDA, pursuant to provisions of the Animal Welfare Act and related regulations.  The retail rescue dogs are not professionally and carefully bred for animal health and behavioral characteristics that make them optimal for long term ownership.  Instead, they are bred by people only concerned about making a profit or by irresponsible dog owners who negligently permit their dogs to reproduce.

The public, including legislators in states and local jurisdictions, have been bombarded by propaganda funded by animal rights organizations that have intentionally mislead people that pet stores sell puppies from puppy mills.  They do not.  Sadly, the truth has been swept under the rug.  The following states are considering legislation that would ban sales of purposely-bred puppies from pet stores, including:

  1. Texas
  2. Washington
  3. Illinois
  4. Maryland
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. New York

The “Rescues” replacing the traditional, licensed and highly regulated source of pets for families represent a clear threat to health and welfare of people and pets.  For example, as reported in the New York Post, an international dog rescue group announced its intention to establish an, International dog-rescue group to open first US shelter in Jersey City.

The global pooch-rescue effort No Dogs Left Behind — which saves canines from the Chinese meat trade — is opening its first US shelter in New Jersey . . . [importing] thousands of pups since its founding in 2016 . . . [from] slaughterhouses, wet markets, traffickers, and illegal breeders across China.

How does this practice protect dogs negligently bred, native animals and people from exposure to infectious contagious diseases?  It doesn’t.

It is time to recognize the truth about legitimate, professional dog breeders, and how pet stores have been part of the national marketplace, placing well-bred pups in the homes of families who want a pet that is best suited for their family and will care for them for a life time.

And money raised by the very profitable animal rights organizations should be used to fund programs that educate dog owners in areas where negligent breeding occurs about the value of responsible pet ownership.

And we must address the gap that pet store sourcing bans has created, incentivizing dog breeders in other countries who are selling puppies into the U.S., often through retail rescue channels.

These laws have done nothing to help dogs.



Despite having failed to establish next friends standing in Naruto v. Slater, 2018 WL 1902414 (9th Cir. April 23, 2018), PETA recently filed another case based on next friends standing for alleged animal plaintiffs, 30 barn owls housed at John Hopkins University.  It was entirely predictable that PETA and other animal rights organizations would continue to file next friends standing cases.

In Naruto, PETA sued a photographer and his publishers for copyright infringement on behalf of a crested macaque, Naruto.  The Court, relying on Cetacean Cmty. v. Bush, 386 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 2004), found that there was no provision in the Copyright Act authorizing a suit in the name of an animal, and therefore PETA did not have standing to sue.

Similarly here, there is no provision in the Animal Welfare Act authorizing a suit in the name of an animal.  In fact, there is no private cause of action authorized by the Animal Welfare Act.

PETA will likely also try to rely on Article I, § 9 of the Constitution as a basis for its next friends standing.

But Clause 3 of this section provides for protection for “persons,”

Bills of attainder . . . are such special acts of the legislature, as inflict capital punishments upon persons supposed to be guilty of high offences, such as treason and felony, without any conviction in the ordinary course of judicial proceedings. (Emphasis added).

Animal rights organizations have thus far failed to expand the definition of “persons” to include non human animals.

The final initial allegation PETA appears to rely on to overcome standing challenges is, as alleged

 . . . courts have recognized that the prohibition on bills of attainder is not limited to the infliction of punishments on humans,  Today, even inanimate corporations benefit from these Constitutional protections.

But as SCOTUS held in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 573 U.S. 682, 706-707 (2014), corporations are defined as “persons”

to provide protection for human beings.  A corporation is is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends.  An established body of law specifies the rights and obligations of the people (including shareholders, officers, and employees) who are associated with a corporation in one way or another.  When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to
protect the rights of these people.

So standing will be front and center in the governments motion to dismiss this lawsuit.



As previously discussed, a Colorado ballot initiative, if sufficient valid signatures are collected, would effectively ban animal agriculture from the State of Colorado if passed.  Hard to imagine an initiative that might surpass that, but Oregon’s proposed initiative, “Abuse, Neglect, and Assault Exemption Modification and Improvement Act,” would do just that.

The alleged Findings and Policy of the Act describe the purpose of the act,

to remove the current exemptions that allow for the inhumane and unnecessary abuse, neglect, and assault of animals.

What are those current exemptions, which the initiative has now labeled inhumane, unnecessary abuse, neglect and assault of animals (unless gross negligence can be shown)?  Here is a list of those current exemptions:

  • The treatment of livestock being transported by owner or common carrier;
  • Animals involved in rodeos or similar exhibitions;
  • Commercially grown poultry;
  • Animals subject to good animal husbandry practices;
  • The killing of livestock according to the provisions of ORS 603.065 (Slaughter methods);
  • Lawful fishing, hunting and trapping activities;
  • Wildlife management practices under color of law;
  • Lawful scientific or agricultural research or teaching that involves the use of animals;
  • Reasonable activities undertaken in connection with the control of vermin or pests; and
  • Reasonable handling and training techniques.

Need I say more?

Just in case this is not clear, by initially defining the existing exemptions (listed above) as inhumane, unnecessary abuse, neglect and assault of animals, these practices would be considered acts of animal cruelty if the initiative passes muster, is placed on the ballet and passes.

No more pest control, animal agriculture, hunting fishing, biomedical animal research and more.

The initiative also prohibits breeding domestic animals, livestock, and horses—labeling those acts, unless performed by a licensed veterinarian—to be crimes of sexual assault of an animal.

Keep in mind that, as reported by Oregon’s Legislative Policy and Research Office, Oregon already has:

a variety of ways in which Oregon protects animals, including criminalization of abuse or neglect, an affirmative duty for any peace officer to arrest and prosecute violators of Oregon’s animal cruelty laws, regulation of kennels and rescue organization and enhanced enforcement authority through humane special agents and animal crime prosecutors.

Hopefully, Oregon’s new initiative will not succeed and people who own, breed, raise, transport, sell and work with animals will be able to continue to do so, for the betterment of people and animal alike.

As previously discussed in “Colorado Poised to Eliminate Animal Agriculture” this proposed referendum, while clearly intended to eliminate all animal agriculture and related industries in Colorado, is fraught with ambiguities.

Take, for example, the definition of the lifespan of a “chicken” purportedly living for eight years.

Attorneys will recall the basis of a case used by law professors teaching contracts and commercial law in which the definition of what “chicken” means was the basis of the lawsuit.  Frigaliment Importing Co. v. B.N.S. Intern. Sales Corp., 190 F.Supp. 116 (S.D.N.Y. 1960) begins with this question:

The issue is, what is chicken? Plaintiff says ‘chicken’ means a young chicken, suitable for broiling and frying.  Defendant says ‘chicken’ means any bird of that genus that meets contract specifications on weight and quality, including what it calls ‘stewing chicken’ and plaintiff pejoratively terms ‘fowl’.

If “chicken” means a young chicken, suitable for broiling and frying, then its normal life span would be approximately 35 to 49 days.

To make it even more ambiguous this is how USDA describes various forms of chicken:

The age of chickens used for meat can vary from 6 weeks to 1 ½ years old. Chickens labeled as ‘Broiler-fryers’ are young, tender chicken about 7 weeks old; ‘Roasters’ are older chicken, about 3 to 5 months old; ‘Capons’ are male chickens about 16 weeks to 8 months old; and ‘Stewing/Baking Hens’ are mature laying hens 10 months to 1 1/2 years old.

As reported by Dan Flynn in 2022 ballot measure could be “win or die” test for Colorado livestock industry published in Food Safety News, the National Western Stock Show, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Livestock Association and Colorado Farm Bureau have joined forces to oppose the Initiative.

The criminalization of routine animal husbandry practices always angers farmers and ranchers and rightly so.  Those practices have been developed by animal scientists and agricultural extension agents to protect the animals from each other, predators, environmental hazards, infectious diseases, and also create safe work places for farmers and ranchers.

Unfortunately, Colorado is not the only state facing the threat to agriculture through a ballot initiative.  There is a proposed initiative under consideration in Oregon which is arguably even more egregious.  Look for discussion of that initiative in the near future.


As a veterinarian, if a pet-owner comes to you with questions or concerns about the safety of hemp or CBD infused pet products, are you prepared to navigate the conversation?

Practicing veterinarians are subject to the regulation of several entities, both state and federal, including the FDA, the DEA, and their respective state veterinary and pharmacy boards. Given the complexities of the laws regulating cannabis products at the federal and state levels, in addition to the independence that state boards have to control the intricacies of practice, it can be difficult for veterinarians to know what to say to pet owners, or if they can even say anything at all.

Meanwhile, the marketplace for cannabis pet products is exploding. Pet owners are left with a lot of purchasing options and questions about the safety, dosage, and effectiveness of these new products. While research about the safety and efficacy of cannabis pet products is ongoing, more robust, peer reviewed scientific evidence is needed to support labeling claims that such products prevent, mitigate, treat or cure a condition in animals. Under current FDA policy and regulations, such products would be considered an unapproved use of animal drug and veterinarians who administer, prescribe or recommend such products, including CBD products would be subject to disciplinary action.

While it may be clear that veterinarians cannot prescribe CBD pet products to clients, are there restrictions about what veterinarians can with their clients? In a crowded market, it seems natural that pet owners would turn to their veterinarians for guidance. A survey conducted by the Veterinary Information Network confirmed this; 63% of veterinarians surveyed said clients ask questions regarding cannabis pet products on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis.

While such discussions could arguably be protected under the First Amendment (see below), there has been guidance in some states (through regulation) whereby such discussions are expressly permitted or prohibited.

State Veterinary Medicine Boards

For example, since September 27, 2018, California prohibited the state veterinary medical board from disciplining or denying, revoking or suspending the license of a veterinarian for discussing the use of cannabis pet products with pet owners. In order to receive the protection of this legislation, there must be an existing veterinarian-client relationship, and the veterinarian must document the discussion in the patient’s medical records. That documentation must include evidence that the veterinarian discussed: the variability of cannabis products, that there is no oversight of product concentrations, and there is a lack of research and potential side effects that pets may experience. It is important to remember that this only protects the discussion; veterinarians are still currently prohibited from dispensing, administering or recommending cannabis products.

Similarly, Michigan recently amended the state Public Health Code to allow licensed veterinarians to consult with an animal owner on the use of marijuana or industrial hemp on the pet. Like California, Michigan’s update does not address actions beyond the “discussion” phase. However, on the other end of the spectrum, New Hampshire prohibits veterinarians from discussing cannabis use in pets with their clients. Veterinary boards from New Jersey and Pennsylvania have no published positions or policies on record.

Speech Regulation Concerns

Of additional concern are the potential implications of state veterinary boards’ regulation of professional speech. Generally, regulations of professional conduct that are part of a state’s licensing scheme are acceptable; however, the regulation of professional speech is much more complex. Currently, regulations of the practice of medicine that incidentally burden speech are given some level of deference and subject only to intermediate scrutiny when challenged under free speech theories. The explanation from the court in the recent case National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, 138 S. Ct. 1275 (2018) supports this concept. But the question remains, are the limitations on a veterinarian’s ability to discuss and recommend CBD pet products a permissible regulation of conduct, or do they cross the line into an unconstitutional regulation of professional speech? It is possible to have more concrete guidance soon; the well-known 5th Circuit Hines II case has been reversed and remanded for the district court to make a more thorough evaluation of the professional speech versus conduct concept.

In the coming months, especially as the cannabis market continues to develop, it will be important to monitor your state veterinary board’s policies and state regulations on the matter. It is likely that existing regulations, policies, and options for pet owners will continue to grow and develop with the cannabis pet product market.

To learn more about the regulation of hemp, hemp derivatives, and CBD in animal products, click here.

To learn more about labeling considerations for cannabis pet products, click here.

A referendum that would eliminate animal agriculture in Colorado has passed the initial challenges and has been approved for the collection of citizen signatures.

Colorado State Ballot Initiative titled “Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation” would amend the State criminal animal cruelty statute to:

  1. define “’Natural Lifespan’ for the following species . . . : a cow lives to 20 years, a chicken lives to 8 years, a turkey lives to 10 years, a duck lives to 6 years, a pig lives to 15 years, a sheep lives to 15 years, a rabbit lives to 6 years” and prohibit slaughter of those animals unless the animal has lived one quarter of their natural lifespan, and
  2. amend prohibitions of sexual acts with an animal to include: “any intrusion or penetration, however slight, with an object or part of a person’s body into an animal’s anus or genitals.”

The problems with the first set of amendments as written drafted to eliminate animal agriculture in its entirety, would fail to does so for the following reasons:

A “cow” is a female bovine that has had more than one calf.  A “heifer” is a female bovine older than a “calf.”  When she has her first calf, she is called a “first calf heifer.”

A calf; heifer; first calf heifer; bull; bob calf; veal calf; steer; slaughter heifer, bull, steer, cow are all defined in various state and federal laws which separates them from “cows” and would therefore be exempt from this law, if passed.

There are similar exemptions for broilers and lambs.

The lifespan for “pigs,” which are neonatal swine, is plainly wrong, so there should be no impact on swine slaughter if properly interpreted and enforced.

Issues with the amendments to prohibitions of sexual acts with an animal (including companion animals) include the following, some of which others have already identified:

  1. artificial insemination;
  2. pregnancy diagnosis by intra anal examination;
  3. castration; and
  4. spay.

While there is an exception for procedures that facilitate animal health that may provide exception for spay/neuter of dogs and cats, such exceptions may be more difficult to obtain for livestock (including horses).

In addition to these issues, if this referendum is actually passed, there appears to be numerous commerce clause, supremacy clause, due process, and takings clause arguments that could be claimed based on federal and state law.

Hopefully, media campaigns will be mounted by farmers, ranchers and trade associations that will prevail.

If not, legal action is warranted.

With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the market for cannabis pet products has rapidly grown. As a result, broad-reaching marketing campaigns highlighting the available products and the claimed benefits have become much more prevalent. In response to the prevalence of these campaigns, the FDA and FTC have had to increase efforts to monitor and eliminate products with improper or misleading labels to protect pet owners. The FDA enforces laws that prohibit marketing and sales of misbranded and adulterated drugs and food, while the FTC focuses on eliminating any misleading or deceptive marketing practices. As part of the effort to curb inappropriately labeled cannabis pet products, the FDA has sent out several warning letters to companies that are producing, labeling and selling these products, often advising them that the identified product is an unapproved new animal drug. Warning letter language often states that the offending product is a:

“new animal drug, as defined by section 201(v) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(v), because it is not generally recognized among experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of animal drugs, as safe and effective for use under the conditions prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the labeling. To be legally marketed, a new animal drug must have an approved new animal drug application, conditionally approved new animal drug application, or index listing under sections 512, 571, and 572 of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 360b, 360ccc, and 360ccc-l.”

Companies that receive warning letters from the FDA must take “prompt” legal action to correct the identified violations, and are subsequently warned that failure to make a corrective change could result in additional legal action. The FTC has not currently sent independent warning letters to companies producing cannabis pet products. However, the FDA and FTC have issued several joint warning letters to cannabis pet product companies who are producing misleading and inappropriately labeled products.

Some states are independently regulating the cannabis and hemp space when it comes to pet products. For example, Florida currently permits pet food and pet treats to contain hemp (manufactured for both traditional and specialty pets). However, the product must not contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol. Florida has also made labeling compliance in the hemp and animal product space user-friendly; the state has published a labeling checklist that clearly outlines the requirements. Now, businesses know what is required of them, and consumers know what they should be looking for.

What are the Current Risks?

Given the enormous amount of cannabis pet products in the marketplace, it can be hard to decide which one to select, or if you should select one at all, even if the labels seem to include a lot of information. Consulting with your veterinarian is advised, though they may be uncomfortable providing such advice, based on federal and/or state restrictions.

Other Concerns

There have been reports that pets that have consumed cannabis products intended for human consumption have become sick. Reported clinical signs include vomiting, dizziness, digestive complications, low blood pressure and dry mouth. Those risks become increasingly serious when pets consume cannabis products that contain dangerous additives (for pets) such as chocolate or raisins.

It is best practice to always research and examine any pet products before purchasing, especially when they contain cannabis. There are several national advocacy associations that also provide guidance and policy updates on the latest standards for animal feed. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) are two sources that can be referenced to help guide decisions about pet products.

To read about the regulation of hemp, hemp derivatives and CBD in animal products, click here.


If you are trying to navigate the space where hemp products intersects with animal products, it can be unclear as to which authority to turn to for guidance. In the United States, FDA, FTC, DEA and USDA share governance over the cannabis and hemp animal product industry, including regulations on labeling, distribution, growing, and sales. Understanding these intersecting laws and agency policies can help companies navigate this evolving marketplace.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Whether derived from marijuana or hemp, FDA considers CBD products to be drugs if intended for use (including advertisements) in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease and/or intended to affect the structure or any function of the body. FDA considers products containing CBD marketed as animal food to be adulterated animal foods and are therefore prohibited pursuant to Section 301(II) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 331(II), since the FDA found no evidence that the substance was marketed in food before the drug was approved (has not been approved for use in animals), or before the substantial clinical investigations involving the drug has been instituted. FDA would not consider CBD to be a “food additive” since it has not been generally recognized as safe (GRAS) among qualified experts under the conditions of its intended use, or unless the substance meets a listed exception.

FDA uses warning letters and enforcement actions to control how and what products are put into the marketplace. Failure to comply could result in product seizures, injunctions or civil and criminal penalties. In a 2019 FDA presentation, the agency highlighted its policy interests in regulating cannabis products. Among top priorities, the FDA is focused on both protecting the public from harmful or fraudulent products and encouraging scientific research in order to protect “the integrity of the conventional food supply.”

As an example, FDA has issued warning letters to several companies that produce cannabis pet products. These letters inform the companies of their violations, which typically are related to unfounded advertisements that the cannabis product can cure or treat a disease, which the FDA does not permit. Failure to make the appropriate changes after receipt of a warning letter could result in additional legal action.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The FTC regulates product advertisements to ensure that consumers are not being misled with false claims on product labels. Its regulating authority also permits it to freeze assets, seek temporary restraining orders, or institute civil litigation against companies or brands that engage in deceptive marketing practices. The FTC has sent warning letters to companies producing CBD infused products that state it is illegal to “advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure” a disease without the proper “competent and reliable scientific evidence.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

The DEA is responsible for overseeing the manufacturing, distribution, and advertising of controlled substances. Although the 2018 Farm Bill (see below) removed hemp from the definition of marijuana, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance and the DEA continues to regulate it as such. The DEA has the authority to inspect products, issue warning letters, or enforce compliance with controlled substance regulations by issuing criminal or civil penalties.

Currently, the DEA does not give Schedule I clearance to health care practitioners, a category which includes veterinarians. As a result, veterinarians have no authority under the DEA to prescribe or recommend cannabis products. Doing so could subject them to DEA prosecution.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Finally, the catalyst for the hemp product explosion – The 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is a package of legislation that is passed every 5 years. It shapes the programs, priorities and budgets for the USDA and its related entities. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the definition of marijuana and established the ability for states to work with the USDA to coordinate their own hemp production framework.

Current Status

Even though there have been many recent updates to hemp production and product regulation, there has not been much movement when it comes to changes on the cannabis pet products side. The FDA has not approved hemp or any hemp derivatives for use in any animal food, including animal treats. Furthermore, veterinarians who administer, prescribe or recommend CBD products with the intent to prevent, mitigate, treat or cure a condition in animals are utilizing the products as drugs. The FDA considers this to be unapproved animal drug use, subjecting the prescribing veterinarian to disciplinary action.

There are additional concerns that stem from the cannabis pet products industry. Check back for two additional blog posts that explore labeling concerns, potential side effects, current research efforts, and the regulation of cannabis pet products on an individual veterinarian basis.