Cloudy with a chance of munchies: Assessing the impact of recreational marijuana legalization on obesity

Health Econ. 2022 Dec;31(12):2609-2629. doi: 10.1002/hec.4598. Epub 2022 Sep 8.


Obesity in the US arguably constitutes the most significant health epidemic over the past century. Recent legislative changes allowing for recreational marijuana use further create a need to better understand the relationship between marijuana use and health choices, leading to obesity. We examine this relationship by using a synthetic control approach to examine the impact of legalized recreational marijuana access on obesity rates by comparing Washington State to a synthetically constructed counterfactual. We find that recreational marijuana's introduction did not lead to increased obesity rates and may have led to decreases in obesity.

Keywords: decriminalization; marijuana legislation; obesity; public health; synthetic control.

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis*
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Drug
  • Marijuana Smoking*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Washington / epidemiology