Studies show junk food sales go up after marijuana legalization

Published Mar 11, 2019 09:32 a.m. ET

This doesn’t come as any surprise to those who have long been immersed in cannabis culture; most people know that cannabis is well known for its appetite inducing capabilities leading consumers to binge on high calorie foods in epic proportions. It turns out that  this is one stereotype that is true. Considering new numbers that show a dramatic increase in several different regions junk food sales after marijuana legalization officially took effect. If you are wondering just how much a region wide case of the munchies can increase these high calorie processed foods, we’ve got the answers for you.

Cannabis research study

Michele Baggio is an assistant professor of economics who combined his efforts with Alberto Chung who is a professor at Georgia State University to seek out a confirm-able link between marijuana legalization and typical stoner type foods jumping in sales. To absolutely none of our surprise, they ultimately found a well-documented connection between the sales of a few select food groups including cookies, ice cream, and chips seeing an increase in sales at the same time legislation to introduce marijuana legalization was in effect.

The specifics

The data that was analyzed by Michele and Alberto was provided by only a handful of sources, with the most significant contributor being the Nielsen Retail Database, which stores the purchasing habits of shoppers who scan their items every time they shop and are compensated for submitting that information to the company. Their secondary sources were typical inventory lists from large box stores in the areas in question. All the researched regions were located in the United States looking at ten years or longer buyers’ history of thousands of individuals who live in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. Their one-year analysis of this information resulted in a visible and well documented trend.

Ice cream - There was an average 3.1% increase in ice cream purchases after marijuana legalization.


Chips - Potato chips sales jumped by 5.3% after marijuana legalization was introduced.

Cookies - Cookies sales increased by 4.1% within six months of marijuana legalization taking effect.

These numbers don’t sound like incredibly high figures, but to understand the impact of such an increase means realizing that there are repercussions to a population that consumes too much junk food that is high in fats, sugars, or salts that can be detrimental to the body. A decline in heart health and an increase in obesity rates tend to follow these sorts of trends.

What it means

What is perhaps the most important thing to remember in all of this is that these numbers just happen to coincide with marijuana legalization and may not be caused by it. Instead, other societal factors such as obesity rates, and the overall eating habits of our current population may be partially to blame. Though we will not deny that most people will crave some kind of terrible food which high, that doesn’t mean cannabis is the only culprit responsible for the hike found in consumer databases from these regions. Our culture in Canada as a whole has shifted towards a more rushed and faster paced lifestyle that results in easy food choices which are rarely ever healthy. It seems like researchers were on the right path in seeking a probable cause for such a dangerous pandemic with child obesity rates higher now than ever before.



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