Amid moral panic over the legalization of cannabis, we might be missing a much greater danger posed by the cannabis plant: stoned cows. According to new research from research institutes in Germany, feeding dairy cows hemp may cause changes in the animals’ behavior and unintentionally produce cannabinoid-infused milk.
The study, which was published on Monday in the journal Nature Food, adds data to a growing chorus of voices calling for the brakes to be applied to the hemp feedstock industry. The authors of this study advocate for more research in order to show that hemp is truly as innocuous as it seems.
Hemp, it should be noted, is legal to produce and process. In the U.S., the 2018 Farm Bill legalized growing industrial hemp to turn into cloth, CBD, seed, and grain for human or animal consumption. When processors extract CBD oil from hemp, large amounts of plant material are left behind, prompting growers to consider using it as a cheap animal feed option.
In the study, researchers fed ten dairy cows different concentrations and types of hemp. One group dined on low-cannabinoid whole-plant hemp, while another received a high-cannabinoid feed made from hemp leaves, flowers, and seeds. Whole-plant hemp at a low concentration did not result in any pronounced changes, but feeding cows even small amounts of the leaves, flowers, and seeds caused the animals to act… well, stoned.
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