Around 4.6 million Americans smoke marijuana every day. The stereotype is someone smoking marijuana lounged across the couch glassy-eyed emptying a bag of cheetos to satisfy a major case of the munchies, but apparently that might not be the whole story.
A new study published this week in the American Journal of Medicine found that people who reported frequent marijuana usage had a smaller waist circumference, higher levels of good HDL cholesterol, and lower fasting insulin levels than people who had never used marijuana.
“It’s counterintuitive when we think about the stereotypes and the myths about marijuana users that somehow regular marijuana use could be associated in any way with being skinnier instead of being fatter,” says Jamie Spencer, legal counsel for Texas NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).
“Individuals who were diabetic and were using marijuana frequently actually had better diabetic control,” study co-author and AJM editor Dr. Joseph Alperin told KTRH. “They had less resistance to their insulin, their weight was a little less, their good cholesterol was a little higher.”
What about the munchies?
“It may be there’s a differential effect if you use it every day as opposed to once a month at a party,” Alperin explained.
“It is well known that marijuana helps people with cancer overcome nausea and be able to eat,” says NORML’s Spencer. “But it actually inhibits tumor growth. Because it’s a muscle relaxant and has antispasmodic qualities it helps people with seizures. We know that marijuana helps people with migraines, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis. It’s not necessarily a panacea to all ills, however given what we know about the medicinal benefits of marijuana when looking at the science, maybe it’s not so surprising that it can also help with another American problem, which is diabetes.”
19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal marijuana and two states have legalized its use recreationally.