On December 11, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) sent out a letter to trainers, warning them that CBD use will not be tolerated among race horses.
While the multibillion dollar CBD industry expands to the pet market—such as in cat or dog products—inevitably race horse trainers began to explore the new compound that is believed to be safe for most animals.
The CHRB’s letter warns that use of CBD products can lead to a positive test “for CBD and/or CBD metabolites in blood and urine.” Given that CBD is currently unclassified in California, a positive would by default result in a class 1, category A drug violation.
“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,” CHRB equine medical director Rick Arthur told Thoroughbred Daily News. “The risk is so out of proportion to the reward that it would be foolish to use this product on a racehorse.”
Per CHRB rules, a class 1, category A violation can result in a minimum one-year suspension or a maximum three-year suspension. It can also result in a minimum fine of $10,000 or 10 percent of the gross purse, or a maximum fine of $25,000 or 25 percent of the purse.
Meanwhile, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) classifies CBD as a lower class 3 category B penalty. The CHRB may soon update the state’s rules to align with the ARCI’s CBD classification early next year, but because of California’s slow processes, the final rules could take up to another year.
While there is evidence to support CBD as a medication for humans and dogs, there still isn’t enough information to determine if CBD is safe for horses and if it is performance-enhancing.
Mary Scollay is Racing Medication & Testing Consortium executive director and chief operating officer. “As it stands right now, there is no scientific basis for use in the horse,” said Scollay. As the scientific literature continues to pour in, “we might have to revisit the classification.”
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