Getting the munchies is a myth and cannabis smokers weigh less on average than adults that abstain from marijuana use, according to researchers at Michigan State University.

They analyzed body mass index data from 33,000 adults that took part in the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions. They found that non-cannabis users gained an extra two pounds compared to cannabis users over a three-year period.

“An average two pound difference doesn’t seem like much, but we found it in more than 30,000 people with all different kinds of behaviours and still got this result,” said lead author and assistant professor of family medicine Omayma Alshaarawy.

Her team also provided data suggesting that cannabis users are less likely to be obese or overweight than their abstemious counterparts. Just 15% of American cannabis users are obese, compared to 20% of non-cannabis users, according to the study.

Alshaarawy ventured two possible reasons for cannabis users being thinner. It could either be the marijuana modifying how certain cells respond in the body, or it could be a psychological reason, as people that smoke weed worry about gaining weight due to the perception of getting the munchies and they remain more vigilant about their diets as a result.

However, she cautioned against using cannabis as a diet aid and said more research is needed to provide clarity on how it can affect weight gain.

The National Institutes of Health funded the research. It follows a number of studies showing that cannabis can treat all manner of medical conditions and relieve pain among many people.

Researchers at New Frontier Data estimate that there are 1.2 billion people worldwide that suffer from medical conditions that cannabis can alleviate. They claim the global cannabis market is worth $344 billion per year when you factor in legal and illicit sales.

New Frontier Data claims that there are 263 million cannabis consumers in the world, which would mean they spend an average of $1,308 per year on marijuana. It reports that the top five markets are Asia ($132.9 billion), North America ($85.6 billion), Europe ($68.5 billion), Africa ($37.3 billion) and Latin America ($9.8 billion).

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