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New Study Finds Cannabis May Combat Obesity

If you want to fight obesity, a new study shows that legalizing cannabis may be the way to go.

According to a new study from the journal Health Economics, researchers at Cornell University and San Diego State University found that states that legalized marijuana for medical purposes had a 2% to 6% drop in the “probability of obesity.”

According to the study’s authors, passage of medical cannabis laws was associated with declines in obesity and overall BMI.

The researchers believe the drop in obesity rates is likely because fewer young people are drinking alcohol with cannabis being legally accessible, they concluded that young adults “substitute away from highly caloric alcoholic beverages toward a lower-calorie marijuana ‘high,’ resulting in lower body weight and likelihood of obesity.”

They also believe that older patients may experience increased mobility because cannabis helps them deal with aches and pains, thus increasing their mobility, helping to combat obesity.

“These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that medical marijuana laws 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 researchers wrote in their paper.

They concluded, “The 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.”

Rosalie Pacula, director of the BING Center for Health Economics at the RAND Corp., believes that, “These data aren’t going to provide us with the definitive answer because of the issues with the data and time period being evaluated.” She went on to caution, “Thus these findings should be interpreted very cautiously – as they could plausibly be reversed in the future, when other analyses are done using data sets that contain either (a) state representative populations over time, or (b) longer time periods for later policies.”

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