There are always unseen consequences of everything we do. In relation to the legalization of Hemp in 2018, one of these consequences are starting to manifest. Before we continue, I’d like to dispel the notion of “consequence” being a bad thing.
On the contrary, consequences in this context is merely the word for “cause and effect”. As mechanical as possible.
Currently, there are studies going on to see what the effects of hemp-based animal feed are doing to the byproducts of these animals. For example, does THC transfer into the milk of cows after being fed hemp? If so, is it significant? What are the mass implications of the results?
All of these factors would dictate whether “hemp fed” can become a thing. Perhaps THC infused cow milk could be a product you can buy in the next 10-years. “Hemp Fed Beef” could potentially be sold as a “super beef” because it’s “naturally packed with phytocannabinoids!”
Of course, these latest suggestions are a byproduct of my imagination – however, it’s not as far fetched as it seems.
In today’s article, we’re going to be diving into what scientists discovered when feeding dairy cows hemp, and probably what it means currently for the “Hemp Fed pipedream”.
Scientists & the Cannabis Cows
Published in the Journal “Nature Food”, a team of German researchers began running some experiments with Dairy Cows to see what impact feeding them different potencies and quantities of hemp would do to them.
The researchers analyzed the effects of giving feed containing industrial hemp to 10 milk-producing dairy cows. They used two different varieties of hemp in the experiment, both of which contained less than 0.2 percent THC—below the maximum legal level in the European Union—although one had a much higher concentration of cannabinoids overall.
The scientists then analyzed the milk, blood and feces of the cows while assessing other physiological factors and observing their behavior.
The team found that feeding the cows a diet containing up to 0.92 kilograms of industrial hemp with a very low cannabinoid concentration per animal per day had no noticeable effect on the livestock’s health.
While the researchers were specifically looking into the blood, feces, and milk for “cross transfer of cannabinoids”, they weren’t looking into the whole “life span” of the animal either. They were simply looking at whether the phytocannabinoids were able to be passed on through the cow.
At low doses, there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable differences. However, if you can remember the Thai Farm that switched to giving their stock hemp feed instead which made their breeds healthier and more appealing to consumers.
If there’s an overall improvement of health, any potential “cross transfer” might be permitted due to the health benefits of the feed. Of course, as they say in many scientific studies – “More research is needed…”
But the results showed that cows fed a diet with 0.84 or 1.68 kilograms of a cannabinoid-rich variety of industrial hemp displayed behavioral and physical changes. These included increased yawning, salivation, unsteady movements, nasal secretions, pronounced tongue play and a reddening of the nictitating membrane—a transparent third eyelid present in some animals—as well as other effects.
“We observed significant changes in respiratory and heart rate as well as a reduction of feed intake and milk yield,” Robert Pieper, an author of the study who is with Berlin’s German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, told Newsweek.
The researchers observed changes to feed intake and milk yield from the second day of exposure to the cannabinoid-rich industrial hemp. All changes observed disappeared within two days of discontinuing feeding with the hemp.
Analysis of the milk that the cows produced showed that a transfer of cannabinoids, including THC, from the hemp to the dairy product had occurred.
In other words, the scientists managed to get Daisy the Cow blitzed. So blitzed that there was a transfer of cannabinoids into the milk and subsequently the meat too.
This effect only lasted for about two days before the cow reverted back to normal. However, one could safely say that those cows have a deeper respect for Marley post-study.
The researchers also found that this transfer had taken place to such an extent that the quantity of THC in the milk reached levels that could exceed the acute reference dose in some consumer groups if it was consumed by humans. The acute reference dose is the estimated amount of a substance that can be ingested in a 24-hour period without any identifiable health risks.
“Higher intake levels are undesired, since adverse effects may occur,” Pieper said. “These exposure levels may especially affect the central nervous system—for example, increased sedation, impaired working memory performance and mood alterations.”
These adverse effects are referencing the behavioral changes they observed in the cows. They haven’t done any studies on subsequent cannabinoid transferal when humans consume the milk.
Some people might opt in for cannabinoid rich meat & dairy
On Reddit, people reacted expectedly different than the scientists – who were more concerned with public health.
On THIS THREAD about the findings, an exchanged happened between the Original Poster “TricksterWolf” and other redditors.
TrickterWolf: True item: the cows became stoned. They also made THC-tainted milk.
BIH-Marathoner: You say tainted, I say enhanced.
Dobryden22: Not gana lie, if you could control dosage, this would be the best milk shake of my life.
TricksterWolf: My milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard , And they’re like; “Why does my hand have so many fingers”
While the conversation divulged into plenty of cannabis puns (some of them hilarious btw) – the underlying message remains true. There is a market for “Cannabinoid Enhanced” products. Not infused, but actually forming part of the digestion and physiology of the animal itself.
We know that in Thailand they are seeing a greater interest in “Hemp Fed Poultry”, and considering that hemp has been a staple part of animal feed for centuries prior to prohibition – there is a chance that this could be something “real” in the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, that future isn’t going to be next year. Until cannabis has been completely de-scheduled from the CSA, there will always be political pushback. One would think that in 4-years since legalizing hemp they would have had some more research on this matter – however, it took scientists in Germany to begin making some major advances on the subject matter.
Some Progress is being made nonetheless…
While Federally there’s still plenty of resistance, places like Colorado and Washington have been far ahead of the game. They already had studies running on these very elements since a while back. The farmers that have switched over to Hemp have seen a noticeable difference in their livestock – a nd wonder why this isn’t national yet!
As the HFC notes on its website, “the pathway to ingredient approval for hemp and its byproducts is time consuming and complicated.” According to the group there are two different ways that hemp ingredients for livestock feed can gain approval from the federal government. One is through a New Ingredient Definition via AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), a voluntary organization of local, state, and federal agencies. There is also the submission of a Feed Additive Petition directly to the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM).
“We cannot get legal approval legislatively,” noted Buffington. She added that HFC is working on having a new definition of hemp seed cake adopted, so it can be used as feed for laying hens, as well as an application for hemp seed cake and meal for ruminants. That first application is being submitted to AAFCO this month, and then to CVM. Buffington said it will take time.
“Lightning speed for an application like this, for a new ingredient definition, is two years,” she said “The typical time is four years, to go all the way through the FDA/CVM process. But AAFCO and veterinarians are supportive of the efforts we’re making. Our hope is we can meet that two years approval.”
The timeline projected by Buffington aligns with statements from other industry operators. In a recent Hemp Market Insider report on the U.S. grain hemp market, we noted that a processor stated he believed approval of hemp grain as animal feed would take three to five years.
As you can see, there’s a lot standing in the way of this being passed, nonetheless, a general timeframe of three to five years is reasonable considering that it only took 55-years to end the unlawful prohibition of cannabis
J HISTORIC TIME STAMP J: It’s still not legal federally as of writing this article.
Nonetheless, there is no indication that this will not be approved at some point in the future, and therefore, it is safe to assume that “Hemp Fed” will become a category during this time. If the hemp feed is helping keep the animals healthier, happier and more resistant to disease – then this should have a net benefit for society once approved.
Of course, there are people who want to completely remove beef production from the equation – but perhaps the beef can eat the leftover hemp so we can rather work in unison with how nature works – cycles and interdependencies and what not.
Nonetheless, it’s an interesting time to be alive. Cows are getting stoned for science!