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Recreational Cannabis Legalization is Linked to Soaring Junk Food Sales

October 30, 2020 02:47 pm ET
Recreational Cannabis Legalization is Linked to Soaring Junk Food Sales

As more and more states move toward the legalization of cannabis, people have begun to ask the question of what the consequences of laws permitting cannabis use will be. For the most part, the answers have been promising. In states where cannabis has been legalized, we’ve seen things like decreases in the crime rate and additional government funding made available to start new social programs. By and large, legalizing cannabis has proven to be a good thing. But whenever cannabis is involved, there is always a chance that the party will be crashed by the dreaded munchies.

The Science Behind the Munchies

The munchies are a well-known feeling of hunger or a desire to snack, that’s common after the consumption of cannabis. The reason this happens is very simple and basic: THC stimulates the part of your brain that controls your appetite. Even if your body doesn’t technically need to eat, consuming THC can convince you that you’re hungry. When your body reacts to THC, it makes food smell and taste better, which speaks to why we have a tendency to not just fix ourselves a meal but to grab a favorite snack and feast.

Having the munchies isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This effect is so reliable that some people utilize it deliberately. Cancer patients and people suffering from eating disorders use cannabis to help stimulate their appetites so they can get nourishment during a time in their lives when it might otherwise have been difficult to eat fulfilling meals.

The Connection Between Cannabis Legalization and Junk Food Sales

An economist at the University of Connecticut released a study in early 2019 exploring the connection between cannabis legalization and the rate of sale of junk food products. The study compared purchasing trends for products such as cookies, potato chips, and ice cream in the months following cannabis legalization in states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

The study showed a 3 to 5 percent increase in the purchases of all three types of food, which is a figure of statistical significance. In states where cannabis has been legalized, people are demonstrably buying more junk food than they did before. Although cannabis legalization leads to many good things, right now studies are telling us that healthy eating habits aren’t one of them.

Redirecting the Munchies Toward Healthier Options

For the good of our health, junk food is best enjoyed in moderation. So, you may be wondering whether there’s anything you can do to stave off the effects of the munchies. The good news is that the answer is yes!

One great tactic is not to resist but to opt for healthy snacks. The good news is that the munchies effect functions in such a way that every food seems more appealing than it would have if you weren’t under the influence of THC. This is a great time to enjoy some fruits and veggies, rice cakes, or air-popped popcorn. For most people, even large quantities of these healthy snacks make for a decent choice. You can also combat the munchies by choosing a cannabis strain with a high CBD or THCV content. CBD is known to counteract many of the side effects of THC and THCV is a cannabinoid known for appetite suppression. And if none of those options work for you, try planning ahead for what you’re going to do to avoid the rush to the kitchen.

Cannabis legalization can lead to increased junk food consumption—but with a little mindfulness, that can be easily avoided. 

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