By Contributing Writer Zane Nogueras
Can marijuana keep you from putting on pounds? That is exactly the question Michigan State University researchers sought to answer through an assessment of data provided by the National Institute of Health.
Marijuana has been a very hot topic in New Jersey these last few months, with Governor Phil Murphy attempting to pass a legalization bill through legislation, which made New Jersey only the second state to attempt this route after Vermont.
Although the bill ended up being scrapped at the eleventh hour due to a lack of votes in the Senate, the topic is still in the public interest, with 62% of New Jersey residents in support of legalization according to a Monmouth University poll. This figure is even higher among the young adult demographic, with 82% of people between the ages of 18 to 34 in support of marijuana legalization. With the possibility of its legalization in the near future, could this research be the turning point for marijuana?
According to the findings published in the Journal of Epidemiology, over a three-year period people who smoked cannabis weighed less compared to adults who did not. These results should not be mistaken as supporting marijuana as a weight loss option, as all the participants showed some sort of weight increase, with people who smoke gaining less weight.
With a sample size of around 30,000 people, the weight difference between the two groups was about two pounds. Given that the results contradict the widespread notion that people who smoke marijuana tend to eat more and weigh more due to the “munchies,” lead researcher Omayma Alshaarawy notes that “it could be something that’s more behavioral like someone becoming more conscious of their food intake as they worry about the munchies … and gaining weight.”
While the research does look very promising for the future of cannabis use, there are some reasons to be skeptical about the data. First, it is the only paper to find that cannabis use does not increase weight gain, meaning further studies need to be done to confirm the results. Second, data collection was conducted via electronic questionnaire, leaving the possibility that inaccurate participant data could muddy the results. Either way, this research shows that marijuana needs to be studied further, as we simply do not know enough about this drug and its potential effects.