Milk from stoned cows makes people sleepy, hemp foods study finds

Cows appear to get high and produce milk that could make people sleepy after eating hemp-based feed, a new study has found.

The recent legalization of cannabis in many countries and US states has triggered a booming industry of hemp products and by-products (cannabis sativa)including animal feed.

But there has been little research to determine whether animals experience adverse physiological effects and whether any of the psychoactive properties of cannabis could be transmitted to humans.

To find out, researchers from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment fed cannabinoid-rich industrial hemp silage to 10 dairy cows. Germany is decriminalizing cultivation and possession of cannabis.

They found that the animals exhibited significant behavioral changes, including increased yawning, salivation, tongue play, and unsteady movements. The cows also appeared drowsy and often stood for abnormally long periods in abnormal postures.

The team also tested their milk and found high levels of THC – the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high.

Mood swings

The levels were so high that in humans it could lead to drowsiness, impair working memory performance and cause mood alterations, the researchers said.

“We observed significant changes in respiratory and heart rate as well as a reduction in feed intake and milk production,” a spokesperson told The Telegraph.

“Other signs included yawning, salivation, prolapse and reddening of the nictitating membrane [a third eyelid present in some animals]tongue play and nasal secretion.

“Consumption of milk with delta-9 THC concentrations as measured in the present study could result in intake levels above the acute reference dose, with particularly high intakes in children.

“Higher intake levels are not desired, as adverse effects may occur. These exposure levels may particularly affect the central nervous system, for example increased sedation, impaired working memory performance and mood swings.

In addition to the behavioral changes in the cows, the researchers also noticed a significant drop in their heart rate and respiratory rate within hours of being fed the hemp silage. The animals also ate less and produced less milk.

Health consequences

The team concluded that feeding dairy cows industrial hemp silage, even in small amounts, is associated with health consequences, which vary depending on the cannabinoid concentration of the silage.

Silage made from leaves, flowers, and seeds had the greatest impact, while low-cannabinoid industrial hemp silage made from the whole hemp plant showed no effect on the cow health and performance.

However, independent experts questioned whether it was realistic to think that farmers would ever feed such highly psychoactive substances to their herds.

Jack Corless, global dairy consultant at nutrition and management consultancy Progressive Dairy Solutions Inc, said: “It is certainly possible to produce a psychoactive effect in livestock by feeding them enough cannabinoids.

“But for the past three years in the United States, farmers in Oregon have been feeding hemp residue to dairy and beef cows, which has shown a positive response in intakes and milk production with no effect. psychoactive on animals, or, as far as I know. namely, significant transfer of cannabinoids into milk.

“In this study, these cows were fed silage made from the leaves, flowers and seeds of a cannabinoid-rich Cannabis sativa variety.

“As far as I know, there is no commercial production of such a crop for dairy cow feed anywhere in the world. But I hope the cows enjoyed it while it lasted.

Several companies are now growing hemp for animal feed. Last year, the state of Montana passed a new law allowing the use of hemp as a commercial food for horses, pets, and specialty pets, such as gerbils, hamsters, birds, fish, snakes and turtles.

Earlier this month, Germany’s health minister unveiled plans to decriminalize possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis and allow the sale of the substance to adults for recreational use and the cultivation of up to two or three plants per person.

The research was published in the journal Nature Food.

Denise W. Whigham