McDonald’s is overwhelmingly the number one fast food choice for cannabis consumers in states where marijuana is legal. A new study conducted by cannabis financial news website Green Market Report and Consumer Research Around Cannabis found that 43% of survey respondents who bought legal marijuana chose McDonald’s as their go-to place to eat.
The study was conducted in 25 markets with a base population of 55 million. Of the survey respondents, 8.5% purchased cannabis from a legally authorized dispensary. In the past four weeks, 43% of those marijuana customers said they ate at McDonald’s. The second most popular place to eat was Taco Bell (18%) and Wendy’s came in third with 17.8%, just barely squeaking past Burger King at 17.6%. The (comparatively) healthy choice Subway placed fifth with a dismal 8.7%. Kentucky Fried Chicken hit the list at number six with only 5.5%. The last five of the top ten were Arby’s, Chick-Fil-A, Jack-In-The-Box and Carl’s Jr. (in that order).
McDonald’s didn’t respond to a request for comment, but the company must be aware of its unique position among a certain clientele. The company erected a billboard ad in New Mexico that read, “Usually when you roll something this good, it’s illegal” with a photo of a breakfast burrito. After it received too much attention, the company took it down.
"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."
Taco Bell seems to be covertly attempting to address its choice as number two with a recent partnership with the ride-sharing company Lyft. The new Taco Mode is only available in Orange County, California, where marijuana is legal. The chain has been known to be a favorite among the late-night cannabis crowd.
Increased appetite is a well-known side effect of cannabis consumption and is often called the “munchies.” The main ingredient in marijuana is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC affects the brain’s natural endocannabinoid system, which controls appetite among other senses. A new study published in Nature Neuroscience found that the THC made the brain think that the body had been deprived of food. Other studies have shown that THC enhances food sensitivity, so not only are cannabis consumers thinking they are hungry, but the food also tastes really good. The flavors are stronger.
The appetite side effect though is useful for people suffering from wasting disease or AIDs, where weight loss is a problem. It is also helpful for people undergoing chemotherapy and in need a remedy for nausea and also to eat more food.
There have been some attempts to cultivate strains of marijuana that counteract the munchie effect. The strain called THC-v though is difficult and most costly to achieve. There is certainly demand from female consumers who watch their weight for a cannabis that doesn’t cause late night snacking.
The new report is part of a series of research market snapshots called "Cannabis Freakonomics" that covers data collected by Consumer Research Around Cannabis. “The data that we have collected has unveiled a ton of interesting findings that we would like to share with the industry,” said Jeffrey Stein CEO of Consumer Research Around Cannabis. The data reinforces some stereotypes of cannabis consumers but also reveals some surprising findings.