Study Links Cannabis Legalization To Increased Junk Food Sales

A new study published to the Social Science Research Network website this month is showing a link between cannabis legalization and an increase in the sale of junk food items.

The authors, professor Alberto Chong from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and assistant professor Michele Baggio from the University of Connecticut, used information from the Nielsen Retail Scanner database to examine the link between states with recreational marijuana laws and the consumption of high-calorie food.

Retail purchases of cookies, chips, and ice cream were the three categories of high-calorie foods examined in the study.

The authors used scanner data on monthly purchases of products in convenience, grocery, drug, and mass distribution stores in over 2,000 counties in the 48 contiguous states of the U.S. between 2006 and 2016.

“With Canada and Uruguay already having legalized recreational marijuana consumption and with several states in the Union having done so,” states the report. “It is rather important to understand not only the direct impact of cannabis use, but also any unintended behavioral spillover effects.”

Chong and Baggio found that sales of cookies, chips, and ice cream increase when legalization legislation becomes effective.

Sales of cookies increase by 4.1 percent, chip sales increase by 5.3 percent, and ice cream purchases increase by 3.1 percent.

The effect showed a slight decrease over time for ice cream and chips, but not for cookies.