Want to take a bite out of the American obesity epidemic? Legalize medical marijuana.
That’s the counterintuitive finding of a new study in the journal Health Economics. Researchers from San Diego State University and Cornell University found that at the state level, passing a medical marijuana law (MML) “is associated with a 2 percent to 6 percent decline in the probability of obesity.” Over the longer term, this effect could be even larger. Tally it all up and according to the study’s authors, “we estimate a back-of-the-envelopeper-person reduction in MML-induced obesity related medical costs of $58 to$115 per year.”
Taken at face value this doesn’t exactly make sense: Marijuana is a well-known appetite stimulant. Smoke a joint, and before you know it you’re reaching for the Funyuns. Or, as the study’s authors put it in reseacher-ese: “randomized control trials provide evidence that marijuana use leads to increased appetite and caloric intake.”