Scientists feed cows cannabis – leaving them with red eyes and weed-infused milk
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  • Scientists fed dairy cows cannabis and noticed a number of changes – including reddened eyes, wobbliness and weed-infused milk.

    A team of researchers in Germany conducted the study to investigate the impact of hemp-based animal feed.

    Their findings were published in the journal Nature Food on Monday (November 14).

    READ MORE: Weed smokers more likely to get lung disease than tobacco smokers, bombshell study finds

    For the first week of the study the cows were given hemp feed containing low doses of cannabinoids. High-cannabinoid hemp was then used for a subsequent six days.

    Both varieties contained less than 2% THC – the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis (the thing that gets people high).

    As well as assessing the physical changes in the animals and their behaviour, the scientists also analysed their milk, blood and faeces.

    While the cows showed no noticeable changes on the low-cannabinoid diet, they did show some traits associated with human stoners on the cannabinoid-rich hemp.

    The cows showed increased yawning, salivation and unsteady movements. The eyes of some animals became red, and the study also noted that they exhibited "pronounced tongue play".

    However, the cows didn't express all the symptoms you'd expect.

    Far from developing a case of the munchies, scientists noted how the animals stopped eating as much two days into the second phase of the diet. Their milk yields also dropped.

    Senior study author Robert Pieper told Live Science that the team "do not have a mechanistic explanation" for those changes.

    Another change was that the cows' breathing and heart rates fell unusually low within hours of switching to the cannabinoid-rich diet.

    These are "rare symptoms in cows that only occur in the course of serious illnesses or can be pharmacologically induced", researchers noted.

    More notable still was the fact that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD could be detected in the milk produced by the cows, even eight days after the trial ended.

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    The researchers found that this had taken place to such an extent that levels of THC in the milk could create identifiable health risks in humans if the milk were consumed.

    Pieper told Newsweek: "These exposure levels may especially affect the central nervous system – for example, increased sedation, impaired working memory performance and mood alterations."

    Despite their tentative results, the researchers insist that more work is needed to properly make conclusions regarding the risks of using hemp to feed animals.


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    • Cannabis
    • Animals
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