Kentucky racing regulators said Friday that a testing lab has reported finding cannabidiol in a horse’s drug test.
Cannabidiol, known as CBD oil, is a naturally occurring substance in hemp oil that many people use for pain relief. It has been touted for its benefits for everything from anti-inflammatory properties to anxiety and even epileptic seizures in humans.
But CBD is a big problem for a racehorse, said Dr. Mary Scollay, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s equine medical director.
“It’s a prohibited substance. There’s no scientific evidence for use in horses,” she said.
But websites are “aggressively marketing it” for horses, she said. Even a friend who is an ex-jockey was suggesting it on Facebook for horses, Scollay said.
“I had to say, ‘whoa,’” she said. “There could be big consequences for racehorses.”
At the moment, the Kentucky test result isn’t an official “positive” yet, she said. That would be determined after a hearing by racing stewards with the trainer of the horse, who has not been publicly identified.
But the racing commission is planning next week to set specific penalties for CBD, as well as for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana) and cardarine (sold on the black market as endurobol, a performance-enhancing doping agent prohibited in human athletes.)
Recently the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium, a national equine testing group based in Lexington, recommended a mandatory purse redistribution, a 15- to 30-day suspension for the trainer, and possibly a fine for a CBD positive.
But a lot of the effects that people cite, including pain relief and calming “are all things we don’t want impacting a horse’s racing performance,” Scollay said. “No one’s going around saying it makes their coat shinier … it’s things that would be problematic.”