In February 2011, a company called Medical Marijuana Delivery Systems, LLC (MMDS) acquired the rights to a patent for a transcutaneous (through the skin) delivery of medical marijuana to humans and animals. The MMDS goal is for public availability of this patch by year end. Given the trade name Tetracan, this skin patch delivery system could be called a pot patch for pups, canine cannabis or even medical marijuana for mutts.
Animals suffer from many of the same debilitating illnesses that humans do, like arthritis and cancer. With many U.S. states legalizing the use of medical marijuana for humans, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch to apply this concept to animals.
How Tetracan Originated
In 2000, a Santa Ana Pueblo tribe member in New Mexico, Walter Cristobel, experimented with finding a transcutaneous delivery system of marijuana for his mother’s pain relief and was awarded a patent. In 2010, businessmen Jim Alekson and Chester Soliz – learning of Cristobel’s patent – joined him in forming MMDS, “a company devoted to the advancement, research and development of marijuana delivery modalities.”
“MMDS is pleased to be working with Walter Cristobal to help him develop his innovative ideas as MMDS advances the research and development of TETRACAN holistic, therapeutic products,” stated Jim Alekson, ADG Market Focus spokesperson for MMDS in a press release. Other delivery systems such as creams, gels and oils will be explored for other ways of delivering medical marijuana.
Alekson informs me he has been working on a stock exchange listing for MMDS that is expected to take place shortly. With that and the new bio-chemists with trans-dermal expertise coming on board, the arranging of manufacturing contracts in medical marijuana-legal states should see the Tetracan patch available by second quarter, 2012.
The use of medical marijuana is controversial. Many people erroneously assume patients who use medical marijuana are only seeking a legal way to get high. The negative connotation of teenagers getting high at pot parties has been a part of the cultural landscape for decades.
“The industry needs to shed the word ‘marijuana,’ focus on the holistic, therapeutic pain relief benefits of topical applications and through focused marketing efforts within the 15 Medical Marijuana States, eventually become acceptable to mainstream American society,” says Alekson.
It is important to understand Tetracan is a reliable delivery system that ensures the pain relieving effects of cannabis is transmitted to the patient; it will not make you high. The transcutaneous patch helps patients with symptom management – pain, nausea, anxiety – but without the psychotropic effect.
Currently 15 states and Washington D.C. allow the use of medical marijuana. They are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
As part of its marketing approach, MMDS will be encouraging states that have already legalized medical marijuana to expand the laws to include animals. In an effort to organize and empower participants, the Medicine Wheel Project was created. It is a group that advocates for medical marijuana patients by coordinating information and working politically to change laws.
The Controlled Substances Act makes possession and sale of marijuana a federal felony. One of President Obama’s 2008 campaign promises was to allow states that legalize medical marijuana to dispense it according to its laws. However, the DOJ (Department of Justice) has recently reversed itself on this issue. So, the debate continues.
What the Medical Community Says
The transcutaneous delivery of marijuana is new but many medicines have been delivered this way for years. Nicotine patches to encourage smoking cessation and nitroglycerine for angina are some that prove efficacious. Transcutaneous delivery for pain control has been a staple for many chronic medical conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), cancer, Crohn’s disease, arthritis and HIV/AIDS.
Smoking cannabis is not that efficient in getting the medicinal benefits to the patient. Absorbing cannabis transcutaneously allows for better dosage control. The patch delivery – once it reaches market – could make a significant difference in the quality of life for both humans and animals.
The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) does not currently have a position on the use of medical marijuana patches on animals but it has done studies on the use of Fentanyl patches for pain relief in dogs. Fentanyl patches in dogs and cats are considered within normal veterinary practice standards. I wondered about dogs and cats trying to scratch the patch off, making the delivery less than optimal. Having visited my veterinarian recently with one of my pups, I decided to ask.
Dr. Gang answered that the application of a patch in animals is achieved by shaving a spot on their upper back, using surgical glue to apply and wrap in coban for security. This should prevent the pet from being able to dislodge the patch, potentially missing the appropriate dose or eating it and getting it lodged in their intestines.
Alekson told me in a phone interview the bio-chemists MMDS has hired are working on topical applications for animals in place of the patch. It will be similar to applying the monthly Frontline flea and tick treatment that every pet parent is familiar with; a simple and easy way to treat your pet holistically. Remember, cannabis is a natural plant, not a synthetic chemical.
What Do You Think?
Currently, MMDS is recommending the use of Tetracan patch for dogs, cats and horses. What do you think about medical marijuana for pets? Would you let your furry friend use medical marijuana?