Pets are the new target of pot companies that are developing more and more products for their well-being.
The cannabis industry is not just about humans. With a population of 16 million cats and dogs in Canada, four-legged companions represent a sizeable market.
If there is no question of smoking a gasket, manufacturers are not short of ideas for the rest, such as biscuits, oil to add to food, moisturizer for the muzzle and skin problems, wax to protect the pads of the paws.
Most of these products contain CBD, a substance found in hemp and cannabis that does not produce a psychoactive effect, unlike THC.
These products will probably be legalized in 2019 at the same time as edible products for humans, but the industry has not yet been confirmed.
A lucrative niche
A Quebec company wants to make its place in this niche. The Crocx brand, which belongs to the Groupe Verte group, is already legally marketing a hemp oil (a cannabis strain) without CBD or THC.
"Our dietary supplement of oil makes the hair more shiny, it also regulates the metabolism. It helps the digestive system, joints, "says Drummondville CEO Dany Lefebvre.
As soon as Health Canada approves, Crocx will have a product line with CBD.
"CBD helps animals with epilepsy, anxiety, skin problems," says Lefebvre.
True Leaf, a Canadian company that also offers hemp-based dietary supplements, estimates the market potential at $ 1.6 billion.
"I'm a little surprised how popular it is," says Darcy Bomford, CEO of the company.
His firm has been waiting since 2013 for a license from Health Canada to produce cannabis and has an animal division in 2015.
This division has earned $ 1.4 million in the last year, an increase of 280% over the previous year. She also wants to invest in the CBD product market. "It's really just a start and it's a fast growing market," says Bomford.
Animal products containing CBD, which are illegal for the moment, are however already easily on the black market on the internet.
In the past year, the popularity of these products has skyrocketed, based on the quantity of products available and the important place they occupy on the sites of illegal clinics.
SOME CONCERNED VETERINARIANS
Veterinarians have observed an increase in cases of dog intoxication with human-made cannabis products over the past two years.
The Association des médecins vétérinaires du Québec expressed concern about the situation and issued a call for vigilance in March.
"Animals absorb THC faster than humans," says Darcy Bomford, CEO of True Leaf.
In Quebec, the main causes of pet intoxication are chocolate, drugs and cannabis.
"My biggest concern is cannabis products with chocolate," says veterinarian Ian Sandler, CEO of Gray Wolf, which has signed an agreement with Ontario potato producer Canntrust to develop a range of animal products.
The toxicity of chocolate for dogs is well documented.
"There were one or two deaths of dogs that had consumed pot brownies. But the question remains: was it because of chocolate or THC? The veterinarian asks, adding that the packaging of the edible products for humans will have to be animal proof.
Beyond this caveat, veterinarians, including Sandler, want to be able to prescribe cannabis to treat the suffering of animals.
"THC and CBD can be used to treat cancers as end-of-life treatment," says Darcy Bomford, CEO of True Leaf. I used it on my dog when she had cancer. "
"We can prescribe fentanyl, oxycontin or other opioids that are very powerful for animal pain, but not cannabis, and we still do not know if we can prescribe it," adds veterinarian Ian Sandler, stating that more research is needed to better understand the right animal dosages.