Marijuana plants are hardly a staple in the diets of American cervids, but in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, a deer by the name of “Sugar Bob” spends its days nibbling on marijuana leaves and the occasional bud. The medicinal marijuana farm Sugar Bob frequents belongs to Richard Davis, who became friends with the inquisitive deer and now considers it almost like another pet. As Davis tends to his plants, Sugar Bob will do his part by eating whatever drops onto the ground.
“He’s just eating a big bud, and he’s sitting there and as he’s chewing that he’s just getting sleepier and sleepier. his eyes are just—he’s getting ready to go out,” Davis told Oregon Public Broadcasting
With the popularity of outdoor farms—both legal and illegal ones—on the rise, it begs the question: will deer get high while eating raw marijuana? Will hunters see sleepy deer relaxing in the woods, perhaps with a case of the munchies?
Veterinarians say yes, but only tentatively. Animals can become intoxicated, although different species experience a marijuana high differently. When it comes to raw marijuana, vets like Dr. Andrew Browne say that the experience is not likely to be a pleasant one.
Understandably, examining the effects of marijuana on deer is not a very high priority for researchers, but many veterinarians are interested in the plant’s effect on dogs, one of the animals most likely to come into contact with the plant and eat it. Canines that consume a small amount of raw marijuana do not seem to suffer any negative effects, but those that consume a large amount may exhibit symptoms such as an inability to walk, dribbling urine, pupil dilation, and a low body temperature. In extreme cases, marijuana poisoning can lead to death. Despite this, some believe that marijuana may hold medicinal benefits for pets much like it does for humans. According to High Times, this is because most pets, such as dogs and cats, possess the same endocannabinoid systems humans do, meaning they are affected in the same physical and psychological ways that humans are. Dr. Doug Kramer, a Los Angeles veterinarian who began treating animals with marijuana since 2011, says that the drug can be used to treat anything from anxiety to feline immunodeficiency virus.
Many veterinarians and pet owners remain unconvinced. Experts warn that excessive consumption of raw marijuana by pets can lead to numerous health problems. For Sugar Bob, though, it just seems to be an occasional snack. The deer does not come by just for the marijuana, however, and Davis says that the animal also enjoys the company of his beagle. The two appear to be close friends.