The study conducted by researchers at Washington State University sheds light on the specific brain mechanisms responsible for the “munchies” effect induced by marijuana use. Using vaporized whole-plant marijuana on mice, the researchers employed calcium imaging technology to monitor changes in neuron activity. They discovered that marijuana vapor attached to cannabinoid-1 receptors in the brain, activating “feeding” neurons in the hypothalamus, specifically Agouti Related Protein neurons.

In simpler terms, the findings suggest that the activation of CB1 receptors by inhaled cannabis alters the activity of hunger-promoting neurons in the mediobasal hypothalamus, contributing to the appetite-stimulating properties of cannabis.

The study’s use of vaporized whole-plant marijuana, as opposed to injected THC in previous research, is seen as a more accurate representation of brain activity in individuals who consume cannabis. Importantly, the research could pave the way for targeted therapeutics for conditions such as anorexia and obesity.

The study received partial funding from federal agencies, including the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with support from alcohol-related state revenue.

The “munchies” phenomenon has long fascinated scientists, and previous studies have noted an increase in sales of snack foods after cannabis legalization. However, contrary to expectations, a 2022 study found that adult-use cannabis legalization is associated with decreased levels of obesity, despite cannabis being a known appetite stimulator. Additionally, a meta-analysis from the previous year found that marijuana users are about half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Scientists Discover The Exact Reason Marijuana Causes The ‘Munchies’ In New Federally Funded Study