Cornell University and San Diego State University researchers learned from their study that the passing of a medical marijuana law, at a state level, “is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity.”
The researchers analyzed over 20 years of data from the federal Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) and over 5 million individual survey responses during a span from 1990-2012. It was found that states with implemented medical marijuana laws were associated with declines in obesity and overall BMI.
For older adults, it was found that medical marijuana laws “are associated with an increase in physical wellness and frequent exercise.” This is believed to be because older patients are more likely to have chronic pain, and since medical marijuana reduces pain, it is likely allowing those older patients to be more active.
For younger adults, ages 18 to 24, a different dynamic was found to be at work. The researchers believe that medical marijuana availability may lead some younger adults to “substitute away from highly caloric alcoholic beverages toward a lower-calorie marijuana ‘high,’ resulting in lower body weight and likelihood of obesity.”
The researchers feel that over the longer term this lowered obesity effect from medical marijuana could be even larger.