Science has confirmed that marijuana really does cause the munchies.
More precisely, a new study found that sales of commonly munched-on products such as ice cream, cookies, and chips tend to go up after states legalize cannabis. To do so, a team of researchers developed complicated mathematical formulas like the one featured below and analyzed a trove of retail scanner data.
The study, titled “Recreational Marijuana Laws and Junk Food Consumption: Evidence Using Border Analysis and Retail Sales Data” indicates that the “widespread urban myth” that cannabis stimulates hunger and drives people to gorge on goodies is a myth no longer. Researchers Michele Baggio of the University of Connecticut and Alberto Chong of Georgia State University looked at retail scanner data in more than 2,000 counties across the U.S. from 2006 to 2016 to determine whether states that legalize marijuana for adult-use experience increases in the sale of high-calorie food items.
Past studies on the munchies have relied on data that's “correlational and indirect,” they wrote. Baggio's and Chong's paper, meanwhile, tested the hypothesis by factoring in the “differences in timing of the legalization of recreational marijuana across states” and specifically comparing “retail food purchases for the subsample of contiguous counties across [recreational marijuana law] and non-[recreational marijuana law] shared borders only.”
The study found causal evidence that legalizing cannabis was associated with higher so-called “junk food purchases. Shortly after a state's legal marijuana system became effective, average monthly sales of ice cream, cookies and chips jumped 3.1 percent, 4.1 percent, and 5.3 percent, respectively. And that was the case even after the researchers accounted for “state- and pair-specific time trends.”
“The increase in sales starts at the time of the legislation becomes effective,” the study authors wrote. “The effect slightly decreases in the semesters thereafter for ice cream and chips, but not for cookies.”
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