Cows may Soon Graze on Hemp Like They did for 100s of Years Before Prohibition

Kansas State University receives a grant to fund research into the viability of Hemp as a cost-effective feed for cattle.

The US Department of Agriculture recently publicized a $200,000 grant awarded to researchers at Kansas State University. The grant is meant to fund research into whether hemp can be fed to cattle without side effects to the livestock or human consumers at the end of the value chain. The end goal is to determine whether hemp feeds contain an unacceptable level of cannabinoids that will affect humans.

The report published by scientists at Kansas State University will be leveraged to inform policymakers regarding the safety of cannabis as an economic source of nutrients for livestock.

Currently, the use of hemp and its derivatives is banned under federal law and has remained so since the 1930s. As it stands, very little is known about the effects of hemp on livestock, and there have been concerns about the possibility of high concentrations of THC being passed onto commercial meat and milk sold to the general public.

The researchers maintain that even if their tests produce inconclusive results or negative results, they will continue to support farmers whose cattle consume hemp intentionally or unintentionally.

Why the Study?

For years now, cannabinoids and THC for recreational purposes were completely or partially banned in many states and under federal law. But the legal framework changed when Congress passed the Farmers Bill of 2018, which legalized CBD and Delta 8 THC.

This new legislation opened up new opportunities for manufacturers who now produce and market THC on a commercial scale. The new legislation also reopened the debate on hemp feeds for livestock, with advocacy groups calling for an end to the ban that has stood for nearly a century.

A Release of Two Preliminary Studies

So far, two studies have been released by researchers. The first study reveals that Tetrahydrocannabinol Acid (THCA), Cannabinoids (CBDA), and Cannabidivarinic Acid (CBDVA) were detected in cattle who consumed industrial hemp. The second report showed that acidic cannabinoids are absorbed by the rumen and distributed throughout the entire body of cattle.

So the plan moving forward is to establish the effects hemp absorption by animals will have on their immune function and behavior. The researchers will also study how cannabinoid compounds are absorbed by body tissues and how they deplete over time in the four bovine stomachs that cows have.

Advocates of cannabinoids believe that if hemp is legalized for livestock feeds, it will encourage the economic cultivation of the plant, which will, in turn, generate employment and revenue. They also argue that the absorption of cannabis into the bloodstream and tissue of animals will not have any potential impact on people who consume their meat.

As we wait for the final studies to be released, hemp remains a banned feed for livestock, but all that will change if tests prove that hemp consumption has no negative impact.

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