Without a doubt, the cannabis industry has grown exponentially in the last decade. As a result, more and more global regulations allow the cultivation of this plant and its different therapeutic, clinical, and recreational uses. But hemp is a versatile fruit, and it can be used for a myriad of things: paper, cloth, building materials, and even livestock feed. Although of all its possible applications, the latter may be the least convenient, according to a recent study.
The science and other stuff to know
A study published on November 14, 2022, in the prestigious journal Nature, gives an account of what happens to cows when they are under the influence of marijuana. It seems to be a trip very similar to that experienced by humans.
The experiment consisted of feeding 10 dairy cows with hemp from a regulated crop in the area for 20 days. The results indicated that cows that had ingested hemp with a considerable presence of cannabinoids (THC and CBD) decreased their lactation activity significantly before the intake. In addition, researchers observed a decrease in their heart rate and breathing. In addition, the milk produced by the cows during that period had significant levels of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.
The researchers also noted milder symptoms in the cows, such as drowsiness, red and irritated retinas, increased yawning, and salivation. After 20 days, the hemp ingestion was suspended, and on the second day of “sobriety,” it was reported that the cows had recovered their usual behavior.
In 2020, a review of hemp’s potential applications was published in Environmental Chemistry Letters. The authors suggest that the flexibility of hemp fibers makes it an instrumental material for textile and green building applications in the article. The use of hemp in the food industry could also have potential, as livestock feed, in oil production, and in nutritional supplements. Furthermore, it is necessary to study the impacts of hemp on the food we consume, as milk with THC from cows that consume hemp could awaken the effects of cannabidiol in consumers.
“The study doesn’t allow us to draw any conclusions about whether there is a health risk from consuming milk in the market,” Rober Pieper, co-author of the study, told Science.
The research was inconclusive about the long-term effects on cows’ health and shed no light on the potential consequences for human consumers of THC-containing milk. Future research is needed in this regard.
If it proves safe for animals and humans, hemp could provide a cheap, ecological, and efficient solution to several problems plaguing livestock producers. Even if not for food, it can be used as medicine to help animals cope with the stress of captivity.