States with Legal Recreational Cannabis Have Higher Junk Food Sales

A recent study has proven that a timeless cannabis myth might be true after all—cannabis consumption does make people crave foods rich in fat and sugar.

The study, published by the Social Science Research Network, shows the link between legal recreational cannabis sales and the increased consumption of junk food. Michele Baggio, assistant professor of economics at the University of Connecticut, conducted the study in collaboration with Alberto Chong, a professor at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

The two compared monthly retail scanner data from 2006 to 2016. The data covers 52 market areas in the 48 contiguous United States. They also gathered stats on the purchase frequency of potato chips, cookies and ice cream in states where legal cannabis laws are in effect, as well as in states which didn’t have recreational cannabis laws.

Researchers found potato chip, cookie and ice cream sales increased in Colorado, Oregon and Washington as recreational cannabis became legal in those states. Chip sales increased 5.3 percent, cookie sales increased 4.1 percent and ice cream sales increased 3.1 percent.

“These might seem like small numbers. But they’re statistically significant and economically significant as well,” Baggio said.

The study shows the sales data for chips and ice cream declined slightly in the months following legalization, however cookie sales remained high. Other states that have legalized recreational cannabis were not included in the study as 18 months of purchasing data were not available in those states.

The study mentioned scientists have theories on the science behind the munchies, but the phenomenon hasn’t been fully explained. Researchers from Washington State University used animal studies to investigate how cannabis affects hormones that trigger hunger.

Baggio initially wanted to determine if there was a link between cannabis legalization and increased obesity rates, but the study doesn’t look into any analysis of obesity rates, instead focusing strictly on trends in sales data.

 

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