Who’d have guessed it? Legalising recreational cannabis leads to increased sales of ice cream, cookies and crisps.
This is the somewhat unsurprising result of a new study which is the first to establish a causal relationship between legal weed and junk food consumption.
In fact, increased junk food consumption might be the biggest danger of smoking cannabis as it has one of the best safety profiles of all drugs.
The study’s authors, Alberto Chong and Michele Cheech – (only joking, it’s Michelle Baggio) – described the unintended consequence of cannabis legalisation as directly linked to increased appetite that THC famously produces – AKA, the ‘munchies’.
“You think marijuana does no harm — that’s pretty much the consensus today,” said Alberto Chong, Georgia State University economist, in an interview with The Academic Times.
“But there are unintended consequences, and one of them is the fact that you really get very hungry and you start eating crap.”
Chong and Baggio found that legalising recreational cannabis causes junk food sales to rise by about 6.3% in terms of sales and 5.1% by volume. Their findings are presented in the December 2020 issue of Economics & Human Biology.
Different effects of legalisation
The researchers stressed that although binge eating high-sugar/high-fat foods may be a comical cliche of the cannabis smoker, their findings do highlight a concern as obesity and poor metabolic health are widespread.
Having said that, cannabis consumers have previously been found to have lower rates of obesity and generally smaller BMIs, which suggests that cannabis itself may offer some protective effects against eating junk food.
Another study from 2020 by the same authors found that legalising cannabis led to a more than 12% drop in alcohol sales. There’s also the study that found the sale of CBD-rich hemp flower in Italy reduced pharmaceutical sales in the country.
Additionally, a paper titled “Sex, marijuana and baby booms” found that legal weed leads to an overall increase in sexual activity, a reduction in use of contraceptives and an overall increase in number of births.
Recreational cannabis is not legal in the UK, but it is in 15 U.S states including Colorado, Washington and Oregon, as well as the District of Columbia.