Elephants on marijuana

As the author of Elephants on Acid, this news story naturally caught my eye:

The Warsaw zoo said Wednesday it will start giving its elephants medical marijuana as part of a ground-breaking pilot project to test how it reduces their stress levels. Medical cannabis has been used worldwide to treat dogs and horses but "this is probably the first initiative of its kind for elephants," Agnieszka Czujkowska, the veterinarian in charge of the project, told AFP. The zoo's three African elephants will be given liquid doses of a high concentration of the relaxing cannabinoid CBD through their trunks.

Elephants are notorious for being VERY resistant to the effect of drugs. That's why, in the 1962 'elephants on acid' experiment, the experimenters gave the elephant a massive dose of LSD — and injected it — to make sure it would have an effect. As it turned out, the LSD had a dramatic effect. The elephant dropped dead.

It seems that the Warsaw Zoo researchers are being far more cautious. They're initially only giving the elephants a dose of CBD equivalent to what a horse would receive. Plus, the elephants will be ingesting it, which allows the drug to enter their system more gradually (as opposed to an injection). So my guess is that the CBD will have very little effect on the elephants. Unless the dose is later dramatically increased.

More info: ibtimes
     Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 29, 2020
     Category: Animals | Drugs

No good, if the elephants know you don't snort CBD.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 08/31/20 at 08:38 AM
I too wonder why they wouldn't give the elephants one or two cannabis plants to munch instead of a drink of CBD. Maybe it's because they want to control what active substance (and how much) they are giving the elephants. Even then, I'd rather serve them a hay salad with CBD dressing.
Posted by Yudith on 09/01/20 at 05:53 AM
Yudith -- The simplest answer as to why they don't do it is: decarboxylation.

Now everything's clear, right? You're welcome. Good night.

But if you really must have the pedantic answer:

Raw plant material is a researcher's bane because it's never uniform. Not only does the concentration of specific chemicals vary among plants depending on growing medium, climate, etc., it can also vary within a plant, the top leaves having a measurably different amount from bottom leaves because certain chemical activity relies on exposure to light.

In this case, cannabis contains a large number of different cannabinoids. You could come to definite conclusions based on your experiments, and someone else could come to equally definite but diametrically opposed conclusions running the same experiments with cannabis from a different source because the proportions and concentrations of specific cannabinoids will not be the same.

The only logical way to start is to determine the effects of the chemical which is usually present in the highest concentration. The problem here is that's cannabidiol (CBD), and it's not actually present to any great degree in raw cannabis. Wait -- what? I said it has the highest concentration, but it's not present? Well, yes. What is there is cannabidiolic acid (CBDa). That's cannabidiol with carboxylic acid attached. Several simple processes can strip that off (exposure to heat, light, etc.), leaving you with pure cannabidiol.

Removing that acid is called decarboxylation (the simple answer, above).

Doing that, and administering it to the test subjects, means you can deal in nice whole percentages of concentration rather than dithering around figuring out the parts-per-million, or even parts-per-billion, of any of the other cannabinoids usually present in raw weed.

So, by using processed CBD, they are:

1) Making their life way easier.

2) Assuring their results can be reproduced by other researchers.

3) Guaranteeing future research grants by establishing they can apply sound principles of scientific research to getting elephants stoned.
Posted by Phideaux on 09/01/20 at 04:20 PM
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