Feeding Marijuana to Fish Gives them the Munchies But Does Not Help them Relax

Tilapia need help relaxing, too, but marijuana is not the answer. MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/GettyImages

Everyone knows stress is hazardous to our health, lowering our immune systems and increasing our risk for chronic diseases. But what's less known is that farmed fish (which includes that piece of salmon you're making for dinner), get pretty stressed out too, also leaving them susceptible to illnesses.

Scientists in Lebanon decided to get penned fish high to see if it would help lower some of that anxiety, kind of the way some stoners smoke a bowl in order to unwind from a crazy week. They fed tilapia either soy, hemp or cannabis oil for eight weeks to see if supplementing their food with weed had any effects. Afterwards, scientists measured the fish's vitals, how well they grew, and how many survived their cramped pens.

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At the end of the study, the fish were not any healthier (and as stressed as ever, it appears), according to the data. They reviewed the fish's blood cells, plasma protein, and lysozyme activity (which helps the body fight against bacteria ) as these are common indicators for overall health and immunity, and found the the drugs had little impact. However, the weed did seem to increase the tilapia's metabolism, potentially making them smaller as they essentially use up more energy without being compensated with extra food.

Getting tilapia high in the name of science may seem silly, but fish welfare is a big issue for farmers as unhappy fish turn into sick fish, which ultimately leads to fewer sales. A study in salmon from last year revealed that the sushi staple can actually be depressed, Phys.org reported. Researchers in Denmark and the Netherlands looked at the differences between healthy and sick salmon found in farms. They noticed that some of the fish kept to themselves, stayed near the edge of their cages and seemed unexcited about food: all signs of depression. So, they tested cortisol levels in the sea creatures and found that they did in fact have elevated levels of the stress hormone, which is also linked to depression in people. Cramped environments and aggression from other fish are believed to cause the mood disorder, according to Phys.org.

Since this discovery, researchers have been working on creating the fish version of Zoloft. A story on the University of Wisconsin-Madison blog explains that without treatment, Norwegian salmon farms lose about $250 million each year, spurring a flurry of new developments. Included in the possible treatments is an oil found in bird glands that keep their feathers shiny.

For now, it looks like fish farmers won't be looking towards medical marijuana as one solution. "Until further research yields different results, we do not believe fish should be given reefer," the study authors wrote, according to Hakai.