Editor's note: This story was originally published July 9. We're bringing it back today to highlight Circa's newest beat, Cannabis Country!
LITTLETON, Colo. (CIRCA) — Denise Chavez gives hemp to her cat, Rizz. And no, it's not to get the cat high.
Chavez noticed certain symptoms in Rizz relating to anxiety and had heard of a company, Pet Releaf, that was making CBD-based products for pets.
"I definitely see the difference with the CBD. She seems a lot better. She seems less anxious," said Chavez, who drops CBD oil into Rizz's food in the morning. "She's definitely a lot calmer. She's not consistently trying to bite at herself or lick herself. She's less meow-y, too. She's very chill."
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive derivative of a hemp plant. Unlike THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, ingesting it reportedly won't make you, or your pet, feel "high."
Basically, it is one of the 400 different compounds that can be derived from a cannabis plant. It is considered to be the derivative that has the most medical uses, from preventing seizures, to treating neurological diseases and cancer, to combating pain.
"I've, personally, always been a cannabis believer on the THC side, that it helped me through hangovers or pain, sports injuries when I was growing up," said Steve Smith, who owns Pet Releaf with his wife, Alina Smith.
"If it works so well for us, we're hearing that medical marijuana is true, that there's science to back it up, does it also relate to our animals, to our loved ones that are our family members?"
The inspiration for the company was from their own pet. Like many pet-owners, the Smiths were not interested in putting their dog on Prozac, which is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor.
"We had a dog. As she got older, and started to have all the aches and pains, we had no other choice but to go to the veterinarian that prescribed all of the typical pain relievers," said Alina.
"It took her to a different place. It would take care of the pain, but she moved from us as far as being there as (a) family pet. So, for us, coming from a family that always looked for holistic alternatives, we came up with the idea and thought, alright, there's go to be something else."
According to Steve, any mammal can use Pet Releaf CBD products (which come in treats, topical creams, sub-lingual droppers and capsules). And while the company mostly caters to cats and dogs, it has also had customers give its products to horses and rabbits.
The medical results of the products have not been tested, but Steve points to anecdotal evidence.
"A lot of it, it's pretty darn clear. If a dog is barely walking, they start using Pet Releaf. The next day, the dog is more mobile," said Steve.
"A dog that was having three, four, five seizures a day, that now has not had one in three months, you see the effectiveness right there."