Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Thorned Bonanza

January 19th, 2010 · 9 Comments

We’re certainly all for the Czech Republic’s willingness to step up to the plate and become a laboratory for drug-policy reform. But in their haste to craft decriminalization legislation that could kick in with the New Year, Czech lawmakers appear to have done a grave disservice to a rising agricultural sector: the cactus industry:

A week ago, the government approved the list of hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms, including hemp, coca, mescaline cactus and magic mushrooms, and decided that people would be allowed to grow up to five pieces of such plants and keep 40 magic mushrooms at home.

Shortly after the list was released, Czech cacti growers voiced concern about the new government’s directive which set limits to growing plants containing mescaline.

Mescaline is a type of hallucinogen which is illegal in most countries.

The growers of cacti intend to hand over a petition to the government that has been signed by 450 people already.

“Many cacti growers have been immediately criminalised with the approval of the limits set by the Justice Ministry as there are some 4000 types of cacti in the world and some of them can contain a certain amount of mescaline,” the organisers of the petition which has been placed on the Internet say.

The government has assured cactus farmers that they can apply for exemptions from the rule, but the bureaucratic red tape will doubtless be an impediment to the industry’s growth. And that’s a pity, seeing as how the humble cactus looks poised to have its golden moment as the hog, cow, and chicken feed of the future. Plenty of technical information on that score available via the Chinese company that started the cactus trend. (Delightfully earnest corporate slogan: “Improving your quality of life with cactus.”)

We can’t vouch for the validity of the company’s claims, particularly in terms of cactus feed being better for porcine health than the slop of yore. But if that’s true, will American farmers adopt the practice? Or will the fact that it was created in China give many of them pause? China’s agricultural industry has some black marks against it in recent years, which will make it difficult for the likes of China Kangtai Catcus Bio-tech Inc. to export its technologies.

Seems like a potential opening for the Czechs to swoop in. As soon as we find that cactus petition on The Tubes, we’re signing.

(Image of Snoopy’s desert-dwelling, hermit-like cousin Spike via Peanuts Collectibles)


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9 Comments so far ↓

  • captured shadow

    I remember seeing rows of cacti growing in Mexico and imaging how awful being a cactus farmer would be. Is there a more hostile crop?

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    For some reason, “jimsom weed” immediately popped to mind. Not sure it’s actually cultivated, though.

    If and when those Mexican cactus farmers end up providing the sustenance for 625 million Chinese pigs per annum, they’ll be having the last laugh.

  • Jordan

    Also, that seems like a case where greater automation would be a god-send. Through some more money at the problem and I’m sure they’ll be gleefully mowing down cacti during harvest season left and right.

    “Look at those needles fly!” some farmer exclaims from the fully enclosed cockpit of a cactus harvesting combine.

  • tsg

    If swine dine on mescalin, does this promise psychedelic pork products in the near future?

    Just when you thought bacon couldn’t get any more amazing …

  • Jordan


    Mescaline is chemically related to neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine, so it’d get broken down rather than accumulating.

    Also, mescaline + bacon would be pretty terrifying. Bacon does sufficiently unpleasant things to many stomachs without adding a compound that’s more or less guaranteed to make you nauseated.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    Yeah, but at least the pigs would die having achieved some sort of spiritual fulfillment. I’d imagine there is precious little room for spiritual growth in a commercial pork processing facility otherwise.

  • tsg


    I knew it was too good to be true, thanks for disabusing me of the notion. If I have to continue to consume my bacon and my mind-bending, stomach-churning drugs separately, so be it. As it stands, bacon never does anything unpleasant to my stomach other than enlarge it, so why mess with a good thing?

    Really interesting idea that psychedelic drugs might offer factory-farmed pigs spiritual/psychological relief from the horror of their hopeless predicament.

    But couldn’t the drugs just as easily intensify their misery? And how would the pigs’ caretakers know if they were having good trips or bad ones?

    I’m not sure there’s any hope for spiritual growth in a commercial pork processing facility, for pigs or for humans, with or without drugs.

  • Jordan


    I have a feeling that giving pigs psychedelic drugs would be like giving them to children (sadly there was actually an experiment where scientists gave LSD to a group of children without telling them). Without a firm grasp on what constitutes reality, it’s cruel to warp perception like that.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @tsg: Well, there does seem to be a sizable market for food products derived from animals treated slightly less horribly than normal. (E.g. free-range chickens, grass-fed beef, etc.) If a producer touted their pork as coming from pigs who were at least given a shot at spiritual enlightenment via the, uh, “magic” of peyote, perhaps that would be enough to build a customer base willing to pay the necessary price premium.

    Though, as you note, self-awareness may not be a desirable trait for sentient beings whose tale will inevitably end at the slaughterhouse.

    As an aside, I’ve always heard that pigs are unusually intelligent–far more so than, say, cows or horses. Not sure how this has been determined, though.