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California officials to racehorse trainers: Stay away from CBD

Photo MJ Boswell
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California’s Horse Racing Board (CHRB) has notified trainers that administering CBD to horses means risking suspensions of one to three years, fines of $10,000-$25,000 and forfeiture of winnings.

In the absence of any classification for CBD in California, the state racing board is to likely begin updating its rules to align with those of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), which classifies CBD as a lower class penalty, CHRB equine medical director Rick Arthur said. But those rules may not go into effect for a year.

“My recommendation to the horsemen is do not use this product on a racehorse that is going to be subject to testing, which is basically all of them,” Arthur told the Thoroughbred Daily News website. “The risk is so out of proportion to the reward that it would be foolish to use this product on a racehorse.”

No violations so far

The CHRB informed trainers that CBD can be detectable for three to four days after ingestion. So far, no formal complaint filed in California has shown a positive finding of either CBD or THC, CHRB said.

Some marketers have pushed CBD use in horses as treatment for inflammation, specific digestive tract conditions, and anxiety, but research is still lacking, as are market controls that assure product quality.

Trainers in the state of Kentucky have been fined over the last couple years by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission after horses tested positive for CBD. Kentucky’s racing commission set penalty classifications for CBD and THC in late 2018 after detecting the substances in post-race samples, giving CBD a Class B designation, while designating THC Class A.

Steer clear

Kentucky racing officials say they often take calls from horsemen asking whether it is safe to administer CBD products. The Commission also has recommended trainers steer clear of the compound because of the lack of research, and specifically no data outlining metabolism or the withdrawal process in horses. They also warned about the possible risks of unknown concentrations and contaminants.

Veterinarians have cautioned that while there have been studies on CBD in people and laboratory animals, different compounds can react differently across species, and proper dosing remains unclear.

Equine Drugs and Medications Rules of the U.S. Equestrian Federation prohibit CBD, suggesting the compound is likely to affect the performance of horses due to its reported anti-anxiety effects.

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