Posted on March 21, 2023

Does marijuana make you gain weight? Does marijuana make you lose weight? Although an increased appetite is a physiological effect of marijuana, evidence suggests that marijuana may be linked to a lower body weight and reduced body mass index (BMI). Despite cannabis’s reputation for stimulating appetite, studies have shown that cannabis users may be less likely to be overweight than the general population. When it comes to cannabis and weight loss, some evidence suggests that marijuana may be associated with lower body weight, but more research is needed to fully understand why this link exists.



Although there is a common association in many people’s minds between marijuana and weight gain, recent studies have shown that the opposite may be true. A 2010 study in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse titled “Cannabis use and obesity in young adults” shows that young adult cannabis users displayed a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity. 


Similarly, a 2011 review in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) titled “Obesity and Cannabis Use: Results from 2 Representative National Surveys” concludes that obesity rates were lower for those who use cannabis at least three days a week than those who do not use cannabis. The review suggests that the prevalence of nonusers with obesity was 22% compared to 16.1% of persistent users. 


In 2018, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research published a meta-analysis of the relationship between marijuana and BMI titled “Theoretical Explanation for Reduced Body Mass Index and Obesity Rates in Cannabis Users.” The study shows that cannabis users had increased calorie intakes yet significantly lower obesity rates and BMIs than nonusers.  


A 2019 AJE article titled “Are cannabis users less likely to gain weight? Results from a national 3-year prospective study” examines research conducted by Michigan State University. They found that overall, marijuana users were less likely to be overweight or obese than nonusers. Although all participants in the study showed a weight increase, marijuana users showed less of an increase than those who had never used cannabis. In this study, 20% of nonusers were considered obese compared to 15% of consistent cannabis users. Additionally, this study found that although the difference in BMI between users and nonusers was not particularly big, it is notable that this same trend occurred among the entire sample population. 


Additionally, some evidence suggests that a relationship may exist between CBD and appetite suppression. A 2018 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences titled “Role of Cannabinoids in Obesity” suggests that specific cannabinoid receptor antagonists may help regulate appetite and obesity. CBD may not directly block these receptors, but it may stimulate other molecules to do so.  Additionally, a 2018 article published in Frontiers in Endocrinology shows that overactive CBD receptors may be linked to obesity and metabolic disorders. Because CBD may contribute to blocking CB1 receptors, it may also help reduce obesity. Therefore, CBD and other cannabinoids may serve as tools to help with weight loss, but cannot yet be perceived as direct cures. There are currently limited human studies on CBD and obesity, so more research is needed to understand the effects of CBD on weight loss.


Although the above research suggests that there is a link between marijuana and lower body weight, more evidence is needed to understand the reason behind this relationship.



Despite’s marijuana’s reputation for increasing appetite, there is no evidence that cannabis itself causes weight gain. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main cannabinoid in marijuana that has been shown to trigger hunger. However, other cannabinoids may have opposite effects. For instance, cannabidiol (CBD) and low doses of tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) have been shown to potentially counteract THC’s appetite-boosting tendencies. 


Some studies have linked cannabis use to a lower weight and BMI, but there is no existing evidence showing that marijuana directly causes weight loss. Instead, cannabis may indirectly help with issues that may contribute to a higher body weight, such as immobility, chronic pain, stress, poor metabolism, and trouble sleeping. 

Smoking Marijuana: Affecting the Weight

Does smoking marijuana make you lose weight? And if so, how does smoking marijuana make you lose weight? Evidence suggests that although cannabis users have demonstrated increased calorie intake, smoking and vaping marijuana may also increase metabolism. This may help users burn more calories during periods of activity as well as rest, which may lead to a lower body weight. However, smoking cannabis may pose other risks, including potential lung damage and exposure to toxins, irritants, and cancer-causing agents. 

Cannabis Edibles and Weight Loss

Due to the potential health risks of smoking cannabis, there are some alternatives to smoking medical marijuana. Non-smoking methods such as marijuana edibles may offer other benefits because unlike smoking, edibles are typically not associated with lung damage. However, edibles often involve food consumption and are not generally recommended for weight loss. 

Medical Marijuana and Weight Loss

Although research displays a link between marijuana use and lower body weight, medical marijuana cannot yet be deemed a suitable treatment for obesity, as studies have not yet proven why this association exists. There may be risks associated with using medical cannabis for weight loss until more studies are done on the underlying mechanisms of this process. 



Experts have a few theories on why marijuana may be linked to reduced BMI and lower obesity rates. For instance, marijuana may boost metabolism. Evidence suggests that marijuana interacts with cannabinoid receptor 1, which impacts food intake and metabolism. CBD has been shown to impact carbohydrate metabolism and speed up the processing of sugars. Large amounts of cannabis appear to reduce energy storage and boost metabolism, which may result in a reduced BMI. 


Marijuana may also help lower alcohol consumption. Some experts have theorized that younger people who use marijuana may drink less than nonusers. This may translate into less calories from alcoholic drinks, which may contribute to lower BMIs.


Additionally, poor sleep may contribute to weight gain, and cannabis may improve sleep in some users. Marijuana can improve insomnia and reduce factors contributing to poor sleep, such as pain and stress.


Marijuana may also increase activity levels, especially in those with mobility issues. Cannabis may be used to relieve pain and stiffness, so those experiencing these afflictions may find that they have increased mobility when using marijuana. Higher levels of physical activity have been proven to help with weight loss. 


Additionally, THCV and CBD may be able to help prevent insulin resistance and regulate glucose levels. These cannabinoids are being researched to potentially help treat diabetes types I and II and the associated weight gain.


Cannabis may also help reduce stress. Studies suggest that people are more likely to overeat and/or eat unhealthy foods when stressed. Because marijuana may ease anxiety and relieve stress, some experts theorize that this may replace stress eating for some users. 


Others theorize that cannabis users may become more conscious of their food intake and weight changes when wary of marijuana’s appetite-increasing effects. This may cause some users to make a conscious behavioral decision to consume less food.


Additionally, some research suggests that marijuana may make food taste sweeter, so although THC stimulates appetite, cravings may be fulfilled more quickly, which may cause people to eat less.  Some researchers also theorize that the sweetness-enhancing effects of marijuana may lead some users to consume fruit instead of heavily processed foods. 

Therefore, there are multiple ways in which marijuana may impact weight loss, but it is important to note that these effects may be indirect. Although cannabis may not directly cause weight loss, it may help with other factors that may cause weight gain. More research is necessary to fully comprehend the underlying causes of the link between marijuana and weight loss. There is currently not enough evidence to say that cannabis alone has any major effects on weight loss, but research suggests that when used properly and combined with a healthy lifestyle, marijuana may help users maintain a healthy weight. For those seeking medical cannabis treatment to enjoy a healthier lifestyle, make sure to look at the qualifying conditions for obtaining a medical marijuana card in your state. Some states allow marijuana and cannabis products to be sold to all adults ages 21+. It is recommended to contact a marijuana doctor in your area to begin the process.