As part of the recent trend of legal medical and recreational marijuana, the state of Utah is considering a bill that would allow edible medical marijuana to be used to treat select debilitating conditions.
The Utah state legislature held a panel on the issue last week, in which Drug Enforcement Agent Matt Fairbanks discussed in grave detail the dangers of stoned rabbits, as part of a warning of how growing the herb can negatively effect the environment.
“I come to represent the actual science, and I come with severe concerns,” Fairbanks told the panel. “My concern is regarding the language of growing marijuana, how quickly any type of cash crop can get out of hand. There’s no language about cost for enforcement, which would exist regarding protection for the environment.”
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Agent Fairbanks is a member of a marijuana eradication group in Utah, and noted that while in the mountains removing the weed, he encountered rabbits that “cultivated a taste for marijuana where one of them refused to leave us. And we took all of the marijuana around us, but his natural instincts to run were gone.”
While introducing a new species to a foreign environment can have “devastating” effects on the environment. But the cultivation of marijuana in Utah’s backcountry is a direct result of its illegal status, the Washington Post points out. Presumably, legalizing it would reduce the risk for bunnies.
In any case the effects of ingesting weed on rabbits is unknown. For humans, experts suggest cooking marijuana in a fatty substance, such as oil or butter, to a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit for no less than 20 minutes in order to extract the greatest possible amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, the best-known pyschoactive chemical in marijuana).
According to an ASPCA document on marijuana toxicosis in animals, it is “better absorbed orally if fat is ingested with it. When THC is absorbed, it is then distributed to the lipid layers of body fat, liver, kidney, and brain.”
In other words, the rabbits would get stoned if they ate something fatty along with the weed — not very likely on a plant-based diet.
The ASPCA document claims that marijuana can be dangerous for some pets, specifically cats and dogs. However, it also says that the plant is “rarely fatal in dogs, with the lethal oral dose being greater than 3 g/kg.” So a 15 lb dog would have to eat a whopping 20 grams of weed, or roughly the amount in 40 joints, in one go.
Unfortunately for Fairbanks, his rabbit testimony was not enough to keep the bill from being approved by the panel. It will be debated next week by the full State Senate.