Ah, the munchies. That stoner turn of phrase for when someone finds themselves deep within the haze of marijuana smoke, craving the junkiest of junk foods. While research over the past couple of years indicates that cannabis can be used to lose weight, many have used the munchies defense to indulge in snack food binges after getting high.
“A widespread urban myth is that marijuana consumption is associated with the so-called munchies, namely an irresistible urge to consume large amounts of snack or junk food, such as ice cream, cookies, candies and the like,” researchers wrote regarding a new study that focused on the effect legalizing marijuana had on snack food sales.
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Published in the Social Science Research Network, the study found sales of cookies, potato chips, and ice cream all increased in regions where recreational cannabis was legalized. Using monthly scanner retail data from 2006 to 2016, researchers discovered increases in chip sales by 5.3 percent, cookie sales by 4.1 percent, and ice cream sales by 3.1 percent.
“The increase in sales starts at the time of the legislation becomes effective,” researchers wrote. “The effect slightly decreases in the semesters thereafter for ice cream and chips, but not for cookies.”
The professors behind the study—Alberto Chong from Georgia State University and Michele Baggio from the University of Connecticut—emphasized the statistical significance of those numbers, even though they don’t appear to be that large. Their point: “It is rather important to understand not only the direct impact of cannabis use but also any unintended behavioral spillover effects.”
“I’m not an advocate for legalization or not,” Baggio told Medical News Today. “I’m just interested in whether there are unintended consequences to the policy.”