Idaho’s decision to enforce a ban on animal feeds and remedies containing hemp or hemp-derived ingredients has sparked a backlash from the hemp industry and some pet owners. The ban, which will take effect on Nov. 1, 2023, is seen as a threat to the growing market for hemp-based pet products, especially those containing cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound with potential health benefits.
Why Idaho is cracking down on hemp pet products
According to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), hemp or hemp-derived products, including CBD, are not recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as legal feed ingredients. Similarly, Idaho law does not recognize hemp as a feed or remedy ingredient. The ISDA claims that the ban is necessary to ensure the safety and quality of animal feed and to protect the state’s newly established hemp farming and processing industry, which is not allowed to create animal foods and remedies containing hemp.
The ISDA also argues that hemp products sold as health remedies for animals are making unproven claims and may contain harmful contaminants or illegal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis. The ISDA plans to inspect and remove from sale any animal products with hemp starting from next week.
How the hemp industry is fighting back
The ISDA’s announcement has drawn criticism from the hemp industry, which sees the ban as arbitrary and unjustified. The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), a trade association representing the animal supplement industry, has expressed its opposition to the ISDA’s rationale and urged the governor and the agency to reconsider their decision. The NASC contends that hemp products for animals are safe, effective, and compliant with federal and state laws, and that the ISDA is holding them to higher standards than other pet supplements in the market.
The NASC also points out that many of the ingredients used in animal feeds and remedies, such as glucosamine and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), are not recognized by the FDA or AAFCO as legal feed ingredients either, and yet they are widely available and accepted in Idaho. The NASC argues that the ISDA’s ban is inconsistent and discriminatory, and that it will harm the hemp industry and the consumers who rely on hemp products for their pets’ well-being.
What the pet owners and veterinarians say
The ISDA’s ban has also raised concerns among some pet owners and veterinarians, who have witnessed the benefits of hemp products for animals with various conditions, such as arthritis, anxiety, epilepsy, and cancer. They worry that the ban will deprive them of a natural and effective option to treat their pets, and that it will force them to resort to more expensive or risky alternatives, such as pharmaceutical drugs or surgery.
Some pet owners and veterinarians also question the ISDA’s authority and expertise to regulate hemp products for animals, and they accuse the agency of being influenced by political or economic interests. They call for more research and education on the potential of hemp and CBD for animal health, and they urge the ISDA to adopt a more reasonable and science-based approach to regulating hemp products for animals.