Just like humans, many animals have an endocannabinoid system—which means they can benefit from cannabis too. Here are five wonderful examples of the positive effects of pot in the animal kingdom.
Virtually every month, there’s a new story about cannabis saving a canine. In February, the Chi-Town Mommy Mayhem blog reported the story of Leah, a 7-year-old Great Dane with bone cancer. Leah was given the commercial product Canna Companion, a proprietary blend that offers phytocannabinoids and terpenes in capsule form. She went from barely walking to running around the yard and avoided amputation. Leah is also living longer than expected.
Hemp seeds provide protein and essential fatty acids for our feathered friends. Studies indicate they like the taste, and it bolsters their immune systems too. A UK “Feed the Birds” initiative in 2014 advocated spreading hemp and cannabis seeds over public land. The symbol of the campaign was the linnet, a type of finch whose scientific name is Carduelis cannabina, after its favorite seed! And a 2013 German study found that chickens fed a hemp-based diet laid healthier, omega-3-rich eggs.
Cannabis has been used to treat horse injuries since antiquity. Today there’s Lame Away, a commercially available non-psychoactive topical offering therapeutic relief from inflammation that traditional meds and other alternative therapies fail to provide. Meanwhile, the Plains Industrial Hemp company uses the soft inner core of the cannabis stalk to make its horse bedding, which has an absorbency six times its own weight, allowing horses more comfort in their stalls after urination. It also stays far more free of dust than other horse bedding.
SIV, the primate equivalent of HIV, causes a form of AIDS in the rhesus macaque, one of the world’s most numerous monkey species. In a 2014 study by Louisiana State University, researchers administered THC for 17 months to male rhesus macaques infected with SIV. The primates who received a twice-daily dose consistently had higher numbers of healthy cells. The THC also reduced viral load (SIV in the blood) and tissue inflammation.
Swiss farmers previously fed their livestock beneficial and benign hemp fodder. But in 2005, the Federal Agriculture Office outlawed this practice, after a government study indicated that THC was being passed into dairy milk. However, that “research” involved feeding THC pills to the cows; it didn’t utilize the same low-THC hemp fodder actually given to the bovines. Individual farmers balked at the ban, reporting that cows fed with hemp fodder were healthier and produced more milk.