Here’s something getting a nice high from recreational marijuana: snack food sales.
Potato chip, cookie and ice cream sales all increased in Colorado, Oregon and Washington as recreational marijuana became legal in those states, according to a new study.
Specifically, chip sales increased 5.3%, while cookie sales climbed 4.1% and ice cream purchases increased 3.1% in the aftermath of legalization, professors from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University determined using monthly retail scanner data from 2006 to 2016.
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“The increase in sales starts at the time of the legislation becomes effective,” said the findings, published in Social Science Research Network. Afterwards, the snacking spurt decreased slightly for ice cream and chips, but not for cookies, according to the results.
‘These might seem like small numbers. But they’re statistically significant and economically significant as well.’
Colorado and Washington voters opted to legalize recreational use in 2012. Oregon’s recreational use became legal in 2015.
“These might seem like small numbers,” said University of Connecticut assistant professor of economics Michele Baggio. “But they’re statistically significant and economically significant as well.”
The study noted scientists have theories on the neuroscience behind the cannabis-induced cravings, but the phenomenon’s inner workings are still not known.
“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,” the researchers wrote.
The study may have focused on the three states to the west of the Mississippi River, but 10 states overall have legalized recreational marijuana for ages 21 and older. Lawmakers in other states, like New York, New Jersey and Florida are also weighing legalization. Meanwhile, over 20 states authorize marijuana use for medicinal purposes.
It might harsh their mellow, but consumers might want to remember that snacking and fast food trips can pack on the pounds.
A widespread urban myth is that marijuana consumption is associated with the ‘munchies,’ an irresistible urge to consume large amounts of snacks.
In fact, when researchers at Boston University looked at current offerings at national chains like McDonald’s
and Burger King
and compared them to menus from the 1980s, the calorie counts had climbed noticeably, they determined.
The study didn’t specify which brands had a boost in sales.
Fast food and snack product giants like Yum! Brands
and McDonald’s could not be immediately reached for comment. SNAC International, a snack food industry trade association, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tim McIntyre, a spokesman for Domino’s
told MarketWatch the company analyzes its sales “in myriad ways, but have yet to look at pizza sales in states with legalized marijuana versus states where it is still illegal.”
Baggio said his future research laid the groundwork for a look into any links between recreational marijuana and obesity. Baggio said he wasn’t pushing for or against legalization. “I’m just interested in whether there are unintended consequences to the policy,” he said.
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