Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Decreased Obesity

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 1, 2015

    cbd_trichomesThe enactment of statewide laws permitting the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes is associated with an annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal Health Economics.

    Investigators at Cornell University in New York and San Diego State University in California reviewed twelve years of data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to examine the effects of medical marijuana laws on body weight, physical wellness, and exercise.

    Researchers reported, “[T]he enforcement of MMLs (medical marijuana laws) is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity. … Our estimates suggest that MMLs induce a $58 to $115 per-person annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs.”

    For those age 35 or older, authors determined that the passage of medical cannabis laws is “associated with an increase in physical wellness and frequent exercise consistent with the hypothesis of some medicinal use of marijuana.” For younger adults, researchers theorized that obesity declines were the result of less alcohol use.

    They concluded, “These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that MMLs may be more likely to induce marijuana use for health-related reasons among older individuals, and cause substitution toward lower-calorie recreational ‘highs’ among younger individuals.”

    The findings are similar to those of other recent observational studies, such as those here and here, concluding that cannabis use is associated with reduced body mass index and obesity.

    The abstract of the study, “The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Body Weight,” appears online here.

    18 responses to “Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Decreased Obesity”

    1. Julian says:

      It’s true; a weed diet works. I fast from alcohol and restaurants during the month of December while smoking weed. After Thanksgiving (after engorging myself and previously drinking like a fish throughout most of the fall)… I lose weight during 1 month by 10 to 15 pounds (with at least some physical labor mixed into my day), and return right back to my average weight. It feels great and I’ve never found a better or faster way to get rid of beer fat. And this is even WITH a day or two during the month just pigging out on tamales (so long as you go two consecutive days of the week without any bread; gotta keep that metabolism burnin).
      Weed; all part of a nutritional balanced diet. We’re going to have to restructure from the food pyramid to the food weed leaf.

    2. bobwv says:

      Well bust my buttons.

    3. mexweed says:

      Sorry folks, for maybe technical reasons my brilliant comment for this article wound up on the article about weaning off opiates. Related subjects, to be sure, obesity causes a big share of the preventable pain which $ells the quick-relief opiate Quackery.

    4. Joel: the other Joel says:

      A healthy lifestyle along with marijuana mind expansion is a good balance. It may not be for everyone, but it is worth living.

    5. Juniata says:

      This actually is not the most surprising news but I think the only people with any knowledge of it are the ones hiding from the authorities. Certain strains diminish exercise but it often encourages activity, in my experiences. I don’t know anyone who drinks alcohol (everyday) or smokes tobacco (everyday) and also exercises on a consistent basis. But I know plenty of regular ganja smokers, including myself, who exercise aerobically 3 or more times per week. Cannabis also encourages a restful sleep which is really important for a burning metabolism and a desire for any regular activity; daily alcohol consumption leaves people feeling toxic and dehydrated while tobacco leaves people overstimulated and under oxygenated. So…

    6. Patricia says:

      I’ve always been an exerciser since I was chubby and depressed in high school and found exercise treated both conditions at once. I was surprised to notice after I began using medical marijuana that exercise seemed to work better on me, faster results, more benefits. The rewards from exercising just seem to increase after I added cannabis to the picture.

    7. Mark I. says:

      Cannabis has helped me loose 50 lbs. so far. Experimenting with different strains is fun and enlightening.

    8. Ben says:

      Just think how much safer we all would be,
      if law enforcement spent its resources in dealing with actual threats and dangers,
      and not in pursuing partakers of a, now, well-documented benefit.

    9. Voice of the Resistance says:


    10. Galileo Galilei says:

      For the longest time I resisted concluding that marijuana was good for you.

      It appears I was in error.