Good news potheads: aside from the obvious legal implications, there is no reason to put down your bongs--or that full package of double-stuffed Oreos.
Turns out new studies have claimed that marijuana is not only helps with cancer, but has a whole host of other health benefits, as well--including weight loss.
Even though getting high can give you a massive case of the munchies -- causing some smokers to 'inhale' an extra 600 calories per day -- that extra junk food doesn't show up in the pot-smoking communities' Body Mass Index (BMI). Meaning, the munchies don't make you fat.
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine, entitled "The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults," found a strong correlation between smoking pot and smaller waistlines.
Conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the University of Nebraska analyzed more than 4,600 adults, 12% of whom admit to inhaling on a regular basis. Another 42% admit to smoking pot in the past.
Each participant was tested for different measures of blood sugar regulation: fasting insulin and glucose levels, insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, waist circumference.
Turns out, even after adjusting for factors like age, sex, physical activity, and booze and cigarette consumption, current potheads had a significantly smaller waistlines than their straightedge peers. Research has shown that individuals who store fat in their waistlines are at a greater risk for developing health-related problems, like high blood pressure, type-II diabetes, and hyperlipidemia -- high levels of fat in the blood.
But wait! The pot smoking news gets even better. Potheads also had higher levels of the good cholesterol, HDL. And, most significantly, between current potheads and those who never smoked or have quit, current smokers had a 16% reduction in insulin levels and a 17% reduction in insulin resistance--a case in which cells cannot utilize insulin effectively, which can eventually contribute to type 2 diabetes.
These outcomes were not effected by how much out the participants reported smoking.
Former pot smokers, however, those who had not smoked in the past thirty days, generally had similar outcomes, just to a lesser degree.
The study concluded, "With the recent trends in legalization of marijuana in the United States, it is likely that physicians will increasingly encounter patients who use marijuana and should therefore be aware of the effects it can have on common disease processes, such as diabetes mellitus. We found that current marijuana use is associated with lower levels of fasting insulin, lower HOMA-IR, and smaller waist circumference."
While researchers are not 100% sure how it happens, basically, pot has a positive affect on insulin control, which helps with body weight and lowering diabetes risk. Does this mean you should forgo the diet and exercise in favor of picking up the bong? Probably not, but it further justifies its legalization. Just sayin'.
Currently, the United for Care Campaign, chaired by Florida attorney John Morgan, is pushing to get a medical marijuana on the ballot as a Florida Constitutional Amendment for in 2014.
Read the full study at amjmed.com.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.