Food and Drug Administration

Photo Credit: Isabella Palacios | Daily Texan Staff

As the Texas Legislature continues to debate legalizing medical marijuana for humans, people do have the option of purchasing related products for members of their households — specifically, their pets.

Websites such as Canna-Pet and Canna Companion sell cannabinoid (CBD) products for pets, claiming they benefit animal health. These products do not have enough THC, a compound attributed to the “high” users get from cannabis, to have a psychoactive effect, said Sarah Brandon, Canna Companion founder and veterinarian. 

Canna Companion also monitors CBD to THC ratios to determine what balance benefits animals the most, Brandon said.

“The [CBD to THC] ratio of six to one in the human world tends to be the golden ratio,” Brandon said. “When we went above five to one, dogs and cats had more side effects, and we weren’t seeing a corresponding effect in benefits.”

Stephanie Hamborsky, a Plan II and biology sophomore and president of the UT chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said the idea of CBD products for animals makes sense.

“In all mammals, we have cannabinoid receptors,” Hamborsky said. “It would make sense that dogs are prescribed marijuana because they probably respond to it similarly [to humans].”

SSDP, a national organization, works toward more sensible policies on drug use and abuse in the U.S., Hamborsky said. She added that experts should be able to make the call on whether to prescribe CBD or medical marijuana products.

“If professionals have analyzed the data and believe it can be helpful, they should have the ability to [prescribe it],” Hamborsky said.

CBD products are considered unapproved drugs by the Food and Drug Administration, which issued warning letters in February to several companies that advertised CBD products, including Canna-Pet and Canna Companion.

“It is important to note that these products are not approved by FDA for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease, and, often, they do not even contain the ingredients found on the label,” the FDA said in a report released March 3. 

Brandon said she never intended for Canna Companions to become an FDA approved drug and immediately made changes to comply with wording restrictions.

“It’s just a supplement,” Brandon said. “We saw a product that had the potential to help a lot of animals without causing a lot of side effects … and wanted people to discuss the medical benefits of trying these compounds as well as the negatives.”

Morgan Ehmling, a Plan II and biology freshman, has a Boxer dog with hip problems. Her dog has been on steroid injections, and her veterinarian is contemplating using laser therapy to relieve the dog’s pain further, Ehmling said.

“Taking a natural cannabinoid supplement would be better than shooting my dog with some lasers,” Ehmling said.

Ehmling said she would approach this option cautiously.

“I feel like if I knew someone close enough to me who [used CBD for a pet], I’d go for it full force, but I’d do a ton of research first,” Ehmling said. 

Hamborsky said she would also consider giving her cat CBD products as long as there are sufficient studies about the compound’s safety.

“My only concern is the psychoactive potential of THC, but there are other marijuana derived substances like CBD — cannabidiol — that deal with pain relief,” Hamborsky said. “But I would definitely consider that for my cat.”

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal inspector found two strains of salmonella and unclean conditions at an Indiana cantaloupe farm’s fruit-packing plant during inspections prompted by a deadly outbreak linked to the farm’s melons.

The Food and Drug Administration’s report on the mid-August inspections at Chamberlain Farm Produce Inc. shows an inspector found improperly cleaned and apparently rusted and corroded equipment. The inspector also found what appeared to be algae growing in standing water beneath conveyer belts at the Owensville, Ind., plant, the report said.

Two strains of salmonella were found on cantaloupes in the farm’s fields and on surfaces throughout the packing building located about 20 miles north of Evansville in southwestern Indiana, according to the report, which was posted Tuesday night on the FDA’s website.

One salmonella strain was found on cantaloupes that had been processed in the building and boxed, according to the inspector, who wrote that she saw “indications of poor sanitary practices demonstrating contamination” in the fruit-packing building.

On Aug. 22, about a week after the FDA inspections, Chamberlain Farm Produce announced it had voluntarily recalled all of its cantaloupes due to concerns that some might be tainted with salmonella. Six days later, the FDA disclosed that genetic testing on salmonella collected at the farm matched the “DNA fingerprint” of the salmonella strain responsible for this summer’s outbreak, making it a source for at least some of the bacteria.

FDA spokeswoman Carla Daniels said Wednesday that the agency is still investigating, but the Indiana farm is the only farm that’s been linked to the salmonella outbreak to date.

The outbreak sickened at least 270 people in 26 states and killed three people in Kentucky, according to the FDA. The first cases were reported in July, and the FDA sent its last update on the outbreak Sept. 13.

Gary Zhao, an attorney for Chamberlain Farm Produce, said in a statement Wednesday that the farm has been cooperating fully with FDA officials.

“While we acknowledge that the FDA report notes certain conditions allegedly observed at Chamberlain Farm, there is nothing in the report to indicate the conditions are a source of or contributed to any reported illnesses,” Zhao said.

The Indiana farm last month pulled its watermelons from the market after salmonella was found on some of those fruits, but the farm’s attorney has said that no illnesses had been linked to any of
its watermelons.

One food safety advocate said she was disappointed but not surprised by the FDA’s inspection report, which also found that farm managers were not monitoring the level of chlorine in a water-filled tank that’s part of the cantaloupe processing line and had no documentation of the sanitizer’s past use.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The makers of the popular caffeinated alcoholic drink Four Loko announced Tuesday that they would remove caffeine and other stimulants from their products. Phusion Projects made the announcement after it became apparent the Food and Drug Administration would rule caffeine is an unsafe additive to alcoholic beverages.

The three founders of Phusion Projects insisted that Four Loko and other alcoholic energy drinks were still safe but acknowledged the products had received increased scrutiny recently. Four states have banned caffeinated alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko and Joose.

“We are taking this step after trying — unsuccessfully — to navigate a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels,” the statement said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who has lobbied state and federal authorities to ban the drinks, announced in a statement that the FDA will make the ruling today, effectively banning the drinks. The Federal Trade Commission will also notify manufacturers that they must cease production of distribution of the beverages.

“This ruling should be the nail in the coffin of these dangerous and toxic drinks,” he said in a statement. “Parents should be able to rest a little easier knowing that soon their children won’t have access to this deadly brew.”

One can of Four Loko contains the equivalent of two to three cans of beer and two to three cups of coffee, according to Schumer’s website.

The media buzz surrounding caffeinated alcoholic beverages led the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to discuss an action plan to regulate drink sales said spokeswoman Carolyn Beck.

Beck said TABC will do as mandated by the FDA once a law is in effect because the administration has deemed the drinks hazardous.

“If FDA makes the decision, there will be a quick turnaround,” she said.

The TABC would post bulletins online and e-mail notifications to permitted merchants.

She said although the commission did not begin discussing pulling the drinks as a result of any particular case, they are taking recent incidents into account. A 14-year-old girl died in a car crash Sunday in Denton. Police reported five empty Four Loko cans in the car, which her boyfriend was driving, indicating the drink may have contributed to the fatal crash.

The bright and eye-catching cans and the fruity flavor of the actual drink suggest an appeal to younger consumers, said advertising associate professor Marina Choi.

“I can’t say whether or not that was their angle, but their design and marketing strategy would suggest that they are targeting a younger audience,” Choi said.