The Munchies Are An Economic Fact

A recent study from No Duh University has found that legalizing weed leads to an increase, part of it temporary, in the sale of junk food. To be clear, No Duh University is not a real place. It is also a lousy joke. But them's the breaks. According to science, the munchies are reflected in the economy.

Medical News Daily reports that Michele Baggio, assistant professor of economics at the University Of Connecticut in Mansfield, and Georgia State University's Professor Alberto Chong, set out to examine "not only the direct impact of cannabis use but also any unintended behavioral spillover effects." Per MND, there's little in the way of evidence supporting the existence of the munchies, save the testimony of those who've found themselves licking the inside of a Cool Ranch Doritos bag at 2 p.m. on a Saturday while Thor: Ragnarok blares in the background:

There are some neuroscience-based theories that help support this well-known trope, but, as it stands, there is little causal evidence.

The closest thing to supporting evidence is a study that found a link between enforcing medical marijuana laws and a reduction in average body weight.

Not anymore. Baggio and Chong, who published their study in a journal called Social Science Research Network, interpreted retail data from 2,000 counties in 48 states, and included grocery, convenience, drug, and mass-distribution stores. They looked at states with legal recreational marijuana sales, as well as counties that neighbor those states, and zeroed in on three foods: chips, ice cream, and cookies. MND emphasizes the importance of direct sales data on the study, noting that "previous research has relied on self-reported food intake, which underreporting can make incorrect."

Here's the least surprising result of any study since the last time someone set out to determine whether or not water was wet: Sales of high-calorie foods spiked after recreational weed became legal. Ice cream, 3.1 percent increase. Cookies, 4.1 percent increase. Chips, 5.3 percent increase. Sales of chips and ice cream dipped back down again after that point, but cookies held firm.

(We at The Takeout imagine that a bunch of people decided to try weed for the first time and/or since college, hadn't had a good cookie in awhile, and zeroed in on them as a perfect treat with or without the munchies. A friendly reminder: Cookies are good all the time.)

All three states in the study that had legalized recreational weed saw the same effect. As Baggio told MND, "These might seem like small numbers, but they're statistically significant and economically significant as well."