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A study found that there was a 2% to 6% drop in obesity rates where marijuana was legal in the US REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Munchies? What munchies? States in the US that have introduced medical marijuana have been found to have lower obesity rates those where it has not been legalised. The 2% to 6% dip in obesity rates, according to research from the San Diego State University, where medical marijuana has come into play has led researchers to question whether cannabis has obesity-fighting properties.

The Californian university, led by economist Joseph Sabia, scrutinised nationwide public health surveys that were taken between 1990 and 2012 and found that there were drops in obesity rates in sates where medical marijuana had been introduced. This was the conclusion that they reached despite cannabis being known for inducing hunger. The drug has even been used as an appetite stimulant for people suffering from HIV and cancer.

The team reached their conclusion by studying the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which interviews 400,000 US citizens a year, in a bid to analyse the differences in states which have relaxed marijuana laws. The team then created mock statistical profiles of people for those who lived in states where it is legal and is still banned.

The researchers have given two reasons why there is a drop in obesity rates. The first, they theorise, is that for young adults, marijuana is a substitute for calorie-heavy alcohol. The second is that for older adults, it increases mobility.

Sabia told the San Diego Union Tribune: "We are certainly not arguing that medical marijuana laws are a central tool in the fight against obesity. We are arguing that there is an unintended health benefit of these laws in that regard."