NEW YORK: Legalising recreational marijuana can increase junk food sales, which may contribute to obesity, a major risk factor for diseases like Type-2 diabetes heart disease as well as various cancers, say researchers.
The team found a link between recreational marijuana legalisation and increased consumption of certain high-calorie foods, suggesting there may be something more substantial to the urban myth of "the munchies".
According to the researchers, including Michele Baggio from the University of Connecticut, people after smoking marijuana go on a junk food binge, consuming mass quantities of chips, cookies.
While some neuroscientists have hypotheses, there remains no formal causal evidence to support this notorious effect of marijuana on the human brain, they said.
For the study, published in the journal Social Science Research Network, the team looked at data on monthly purchases of cookies, chips and ice cream from grocery, convenience, drug and mass distribution stores in more than 2,000 countries in the US over a 10-year period.
The team compared purchasing trends to the implementation dates for recreational marijuana laws in states including Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
Their analysis showed that legalising recreational marijuana led to a 3.1 per cent increase in ice cream purchases, a 4.1 per cent increase in cookie purchases, and a 5.3 per cent increase in chip purchases immediately after recreational marijuana sales began.
"These might seem like small numbers. But they're statistically and economically significant," Baggio said.