marijuana user
A man smokes marijuana during the annual 4/20 rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Getty Images/Lars Hagberg/AFP

Now that marijuana is increasingly becoming an accepted and legal form of medication (and leisure activity), scientists are looking for new ways to handle the urine of those who use it — and they’ve gotten pretty creative. Before, pee had just been used to test if a person was using the product. For some reason, Turkish scientists thought to extract some elements from it to see if it can be turned into electricity — to positive results.

A team of Turkish researchers extracted cannabis metabolites from urine using microbial fuel cells (MFC), which degraded over 60 percent of the metabolites while generating electricity. The actual human urine was able to produce 0.23 volts of continuous power in MFCs. They then made synthetic urine that had sodium acetate as a carbon source and saw its voltage generation reach 0.33 volts. This led them to conclude that wastewater that has been contaminated with a urine-based metabolite could be treated in MFCs and generate voltage in the process.

An article by The Growth Op pointed out that this discovery is not entirely new because the concept of generating electricity from urine has been studied in the past, not just for marijuana users. It said that MFCs can also be extracted from clean pee by using a generator to isolate and purify hydrogen components. In fact, pure unadulterated urine actually generated a higher voltage, which means that marijuana use lowers its power to conduct electricity.

This discussion is significant in the United States, where the issue of legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use remains to be a hot topic. As of this writing, medical cannabis is legal in 33 states, while its use for leisure is legal in 10 states. President Donald Trump also approved the Farm Bill in 2018, which was for the legalization of hemp. Marijuana is also legal in Canada and Mexico.