MENLO PARK — Bentley seemed to be in a haze. Normally this 12-pound Chihuahua-terrier mix would never refuse hot, fresh French fries from a drive-through fast food joint. But on a recent warm afternoon, he turned his head away at his owner’s offer.
“He wouldn’t take them, so I knew something was wrong. He was just out of it,” said Dana Long, a resident of Tiburon. Long eventually took his dog to the veterinarian, who informed him that his typically sprightly and voracious Bentley was stoned. He had likely picked up a chocolate edible on the fields of a nearby middle school, where Long’s daughter was playing softball.
While excess cannabis consumption by canines is not new, cases are growing as more and more states legalize the drug, and its use becomes more widespread, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The group’s poison hotline suggests that as more and more states have legalized recreational marijuana, reports of marijuana toxicity in dogs have also grown.
Between 2017 and 2020, national call volume for cannabis ingestion rose from 1,436 to 3,923 cases, said Tina Wismer, a veterinarian and senior director of the New York-based ASPCA Poison Control Center.
Those numbers are likely just a fraction of the true incidence of marijuana poisonings — reporting to the control center is voluntary — but the trend is clear. In California, where recreational marijuana was legalized in November 2016, call numbers grew by 276% between 2016 and 2020. In Colorado, those numbers have risen eleven-fold since legalization in 2012.
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