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article image'Pot-bellied' pig could take on a whole new meaning

By W. Mark Dendy     Jan 23, 2014 in Health
We have all seen pictures of them — pot-bellied pigs — the little short-legged porcine that supposedly make a good pet.
Those grunting little creatures are not raised for food, but their cousins that are, may soon be "pot-head" pigs flying high.
Thanks to the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in Washington and Colorado, the first two states to decriminalize cannabis, and some innovators who seek ways to deal with the waste products created by the industry — seeds and stems — the term for the faddish pot-bellied pig could apply to other porkers, those that supply the nation with bacon and ham.
Susannah Gross owns a five-acre farm north of Seattle that raises pigs. Not the pet kind, the kind you eat. Gross is part of a group experimenting with turning waste from pot cultivation and processing into pig food a solution that seems to make the most of marijuana's appetite-enhancing properties.
The results of Gross’ small experiment should not be surprising to those who grew up in the 60s and 70s spending Saturday nights watching the “Coneheads” and “Mr. Bill” on SNL while passing around a bong and munchin’ out.
The experimental subjects slaughtered in March remain nameless, but prior to their demise, the four little piggies whose feed was supplemented with marijuana waste were 20 to 30 pounds heavier than the half-dozen other pigs from the same litter.
Even though the pot laced-feed enhances appetite, there has been no determination whether THC, the mind-altering component found in marijuana, is present in animals' tissues given the left-over cannabis stems, seeds, and leaves.
Studies of food animals that consume marijuana are in short supply. A 1990 study reported that milk from free range buffalo in Pakistan where cannabis grows freely was found to contain low levels of THC. And the European Food Safety Authority delivered an opinion in 2011 regarding use of hemp in feed. The consensus was that although their was no data on THC levels found in food animal tissue, "the lipophylic properties of THC would suggest that the conclusions drawn from milk consumption would in principle apply to other animal products."
Colorado followed Washington State decriminalizing recreational marijuana use; medical marijuana use is legal in about 20 states. But the Feds still consider any kind of marijuana use illegal which raises a few questions.
Meats sold to the consumer are subject to USDA guidelines. Will Federal inspectors now test for residual marijuana or THC in pork products?
Could driving while under the influence of a bacon-cheeseburger become illegal?
If THC levels are in fact found in pigs, will the pigs see flying humans?
And of course this study raises the question — will bacon be the next “edible” pot product to appear in cannabis apothecaries?
Should we roll another one and join the think tank?
More about Marijuana, Pork, Farm animals, Washington state, Colorado avalanche
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