With recreational marijuana about to become legal in Washington state, the budding ranks of new cannabis growers face a quandary over what to do with the excess stems, roots and leaves from their plants.
Pigs may be the answer.
Susannah Gross, who owns a five-acre farm north of Seattle, is part of a group experimenting with a solution that seems to make the most of marijuana’s appetite-enhancing properties — turning weed waste into pig food.
Four pigs whose feed was supplemented with potent plant leavings during the last four months of their lives ended up 20 to 30 pounds heavier than the half-dozen other pigs from the same litter.
“They were eating more, as you can imagine,” Gross said.
Washington and Colorado voters both approved recreational use of pot in November. While it’s still illegal under federal law, the Obama administration has not yet said what action, if any, it will take.
Aside from giving farm animals the munchies, cannabis pig feed might also create a new niche market for pork producers.
“We can have pot chickens, pot pigs, grass-fed beef,” said Matt McAlman, the medical marijuana grower who provided the pot leavings for Gross’s pigs.
Gross’s pigs were butchered by William von Schneidau, who has a shop at the famous Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. In March, von Schneidau held a “Pot Pig Gig” at the market, serving up the marijuana-fed pork as part of a five-course meal.
He quickly sold out the remaining weed-fed meat at his shop but plans another pot-pig feast later this summer, he said.
“Some say the meat seems to taste more savoury,” von Schneidau said.
The results beg the question of whether pot-fed pork contains any measurable traces of THC, the mind-altering chemical ingredient in cannabis.
The European Food Safety Authority reported in 2011 that “no studies concerning tolerance or effects of graded levels of THC in food-producing animals have been found in literature.”
The agency also noted that “no data are available concerning the likely transfer of THC… to animal tissues and eggs following repeated administration.”