holstein milk cow

Hemp-fed cows get high and produce THC-laced milk

The cannabis market has been growing steadily for the last few years. As more and more people turn to cannabis oil and other products to help them manage things like stress and pain, the amount required by farmers to grow has also increased. Many cannabis farmers have a surplus of leftover hemp biomass. Researchers decided to see if this biomass could be used as livestock feed without affecting both the animals and the people consuming the animal product afterward. The result? Hemp-fed cows get high – and their milk contains THC, too.

Hemp-Fed Cows Get High And Produce Cannabis-Laced Milk

A group of researchers decided to test out whether or not leftover hemp biomass could be used in milk cows’ feed. They wanted to find out whether the milk produced by hemp-fed cows would be suitable for human consumption, as well as if it would affect the cows themselves. What they found was that hemp-fed cows do, in fact, get high, and what’s more, the milk they produce has significant levels of THC in it. THC is the active compound in cannabis that produces psychostimulant effects. (1)

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The researchers did this by feeding lactating dairy cows low-concentration hemp biomass as part of their regular feed. They then observed the cows’ behavior. Not long after consuming the hemp product, they noticed some obvious changes in the cows’ behavior. They described what they observed in the study: “Concomitantly, changes in animal behavior and appearance were evident, such as pronounced tongue play, increased yawning, salivation, nasal secretion formation, prolapse and reddening of the nictitating membrane, and somnolent appearance,” the researchers write in the study. “Some animals from group H [the group fed the highest volume of hemp] displayed careful, occasionally unsteady gait, unusually long standing and abnormal posture.”

Next, they tested the milk that these cows produced afterward to see how much, if any, of that cannabis was transferred into the milk. The researchers said that they did detect cannabis in the milk, and more importantly, at levels that are relevant to human health.

Read: Hemp is the New Oak: America’s First Hemp “Wood” Factory is Already Here

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Could You Get High From Drinking Hemp-Fed Cows’ Milk?

The next question, of course, on everyone’s mind is whether or not a human being could get high from drinking hemp-fed cow’s milk. The researchers did not test it out and therefore can not confirm whether or not this is the case. Likely, it could be more dependent on the person and also the level of THC in the milk, which would likely be hard to control. While they aren’t sure if the milk would produce psychoactive effects in adults, they do say that likely the levels of THC would be of concern for children and women who are breastfeeding.

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How Does It Affect Animals?

The cows’ behavior certainly changed after eating the hemp biomass, which can only be described as the fact that the cows were high. That being said, the researchers did note that this could be an effective way to help manage animal stress levels. Scientists also say that there is a wash-out period and that it doesn’t actually take that long for the cannabis to leave the animals’ system. (2)

Naturally, less-stressed animals are good both for the animals themselves and also for the farmers. Experts note that when cows spend more time simply lounging around, they tend to put on more weight. This benefits the farmers because the animals are bigger and have softer muscles. For the animals, they are more relaxed, helping achieve a better quality of life for that animal. (3)

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The Takeaway

So, will you be seeing hemp-fed cows milk on your local grocery store shelves any time soon? Likely not. That being said, this research has opened the door for more possibilities of using leftover hemp products in animal feed that could be beneficial to the animals, the farmers, and the consumers. Further research will be required to be sure that other products from hemp-fed animals will be safe for human consumption.

Keep Reading: Bees Absolutely Love Cannabis and It Could Help Restore Their Populations

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Sources

  1. Transfer of cannabinoids into the milk of dairy cows fed with industrial hemp could lead to Δ9-THC exposure that exceeds acute reference dose.” Nature. Bettina Wagner, et al. November 14, 2022.
  2. Plasma concentrations of eleven cannabinoids in cattle following oral administration of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa).” Nature. Michael D. Kleinhenz, et al. July 29, 2020.
  3. Hemp-Fed Cows Get Buzzed, Study Finds, but Will Humans Who Drink Their Milk?NY Times
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