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Study Finds That Legal Weed Is Great For The Fast Food Industry

But where do stoners love to eat the most?

So far, the U.S.’s great legal marijuana experiment has been a hit. In 2016, the state of Colorado brought in an additional $200 million in tax revenue from the plant, and thousands of new jobs have been created since legalization began in 2012. In 2016, legal pot smoking was up 30% in the U.S., with sales reaching $6.7 billion.

While potheads in legal states are smiling ear to ear, businessmen in the fast food industry also have a big reason to smile: Weed is great for business.


A recent study by Green Market Report and Consumer Research Around Cannabis found that 43% of legal tokers had purchased food at a McDonald’s in the previous four weeks, 10% above the market average. While only 18% ate at Taco Bell within the same four-week span, legal cannabis users visited it 43% more often than the general population. Wendy’s (17% above market) and Burger King (19% above market) are also popular among legal stoners while Subway (10% below market) is a lot less appetizing. But seriously, who craves a turkey sandwich after a huge b-load?

Image by Weed Streetwear/Flickr.

Although legal stoners visit McDonald’s more frequently than those who deny themselves the reefer, its popularity is mostly due to the company’s sheer volume of restaurants. “McDonald’s wins by virtue of the sheer number of locations – by default really,” said Jeff Stein, vice president of Consumer Research Around Cannabis. “Those competitors which better understanding cannabis users and their consumer habits can certainly close the gap by integrating what they learn through their marketing efforts.”

Why do stoners love fast food so much? According to Smithsonian, the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, affects appetites in three different ways. It fits into receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, heightening our sense of taste and smell. Pot also increases the release of dopamine which makes eating more pleasurable while interacting with receptors in the hypothalamus to release hormone-stimulating hormones. That’s probably why a Doritos Locos taco doesn’t sound like the most appetizing thing on the planet until the ganja gets passed around and it sounds like mana from heaven.