Medical marijuana laws associated with decreased obesity: "The enforcement of MMLs (medical marijuana laws) is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity"
The 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.
Ref: The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Body Weight. Health Economics (25 November 2015) | DOI: 10.1002/hec.3267
This study is the first to examine the effects of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) on body weight, physical wellness, and exercise. Using data from the 1990 to 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and a difference-in-difference approach, we find that the enforcement of MMLs is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity. We find some evidence of age-specific heterogeneity in mechanisms. For older individuals, MML-induced increases in physical mobility may be a relatively important channel, while for younger individuals, a reduction in consumption of alcohol, a substitute for marijuana, appears more important. 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. Our estimates suggest that MMLs induce a $58 to $115 per-person annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs.