A farm feeding chickens with marijuana instead of antibiotics gets higher prices from consumers seeking organic poultry, researchers say

A worker prepares chicken meat at the Khlong Toei market in Bangkok.  The Department of Livestock Development is closely monitoring the spread of H5N6 bird flu after the World Health Organization warned of a possible outbreak following recent cases of infection in China.

A worker prepares chicken meat at the Khlong Toei market in Bangkok.Adisorn Chabsungnoen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • A farm in Thailand has started feeding its chickens cannabis instead of antibiotics.

  • Chiang Mai University researchers say the experiment is showing positive signs.

  • The chickens fetch double the usual price of consumers looking for organic poultry.

A farm growing medical marijuana in northern Thailand is feeding its free-range chickens cannabis instead of antibiotics, and researchers said the experiment has shown promising results.

Researchers from the Department of Animal and Aquatic Sciences at Chiang Mai University said less than 10% of the 1,000 chickens on the farm in Lampang have died since they introduced pot to the chickens’ diet in January 2021.

While the findings of the study are still under review and only cover a year-long study, Chompunut Lumsangkul, an assistant professor who led the study, told Insider that the cannabis food appears to be working. The mortality rate for the chickens on the farm is the same as in regular seasons when there is no serious outbreak of bird killing diseaseshe said.

The birds’ special food is produced by adding ground cannabis to their food and water, Lumsangkul said. During this time, no antibiotics and medicines are fed or used to the chickens.

In addition to healthy chickens, the experiment has also enabled the farm to sell its birds for higher prices to consumers looking for organic poultry.

The birds fetch double the regular price, about $1.50 a pound, mainly because buyers want organic chickens that have not been given antibiotics, Lumsangkul said. She also claimed that the chicken’s meat – which they call “GanjaChicken” – is more tender and tastes better than regular chickens.

“Consumers in Thailand have paid attention to this because the demand for chickens is increasing and many farmers have to use antibiotics, so some customers want to find a safer product,” said the university lecturer.

The farm in Lampang mainly grows cannabis as one of its main products, but also raises chickens.

The farm in Lampang mainly grows cannabis as one of its main products, but also raises chickens.CHOMPUNUT LUMSANGKUL

As part of the experiment, Lumsangkul said her research team would sometimes feed the chickens elevated levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the compound in marijuana that gives users a high — that exceeded legal limits for humans in Thailand.

Earlier this month, the Thai government the sale of cannabis products legalized but limits the amount of THC in the items one can consume to 0.2%. By comparison, the chickens on the farm would sometimes go up to 0.4%, Chompunut said.

“I can’t say the cannabis doesn’t get the chickens high, but they are behaving normal,” she said.

Several dozen black chickens can be seen in a farmer's hut.

The farm has more than 1,000 chickens that have been fed cannabis since January last year.CHOMPUNUT LUMSANGKUL

Lumsangkul noted that it is not immediately clear what the full benefits of feeding cannabis to chickens are, nor why the cannabis keeps the birds healthy in the first place. However, she said it is likely that marijuana contains bioactive compounds or substances that promote metabolic activity and better health conditions, which boost the birds’ immune systems.

The study has been just a “screening test” so far, and the researchers have yet to test whether the cannabis feed protects the chickens from bird flu or other serious illnesses, Lumsangkul said.

As for whether people can get high from eating cannabis-fed chickens, Lumsangkul said there is “no way” that could happen. The THC is completely metabolized in the chicken’s body before slaughter, so its shape has completely changed by the time it hits the table, she said.

Read the original article Insider

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