The munchies. Every day, countless cannabis users nationwide experience this gnawing urge to eat. After all, that’s part of the fun of partaking in pot: the joy of chowing down.
Where a large portion of cannabis users go to satisfy their munchies should surprise nobody. Fast food restaurants are a fast, cheap and low-stress spot for users to grab some grub. Whether picking up at the drive-through or sitting in the open communal seating areas, these are easy destinations for anyone noshing while under the influence of marijuana.
Fast food chains will certainly benefit in states that legalize cannabis. But which ones in particular, and how much?
Popular Fast Food Joints
A study recently released by the Green Market Report and Consumer Research Around Cannabis revealed that 43% of people who purchased legal marijuana over a four-week period bought food from McDonald’s.
The study was conducted over several marketplaces with a base population of 55 million. The study also identified people who purchased cannabis from a legally authorized dispensary, which was 4.7 million or 8.5% of that population.
Coming in second place was Taco Bell, with 18% of respondents.
Wendy’s finished in third place with 17.8%, just beating out Burger King at 17.6%. Subway ranked in fifth with 8.7%, ahead of Kentucky Fried Chicken on the list with 5.5%.
The other fast food brands in the top ten were Arby’s, Chick-Fil-A, Jack-In-The-Box and Carl’s Jr. (finishing in that order).
“McDonald’s wins by virtue of the sheer number of locations — by default really,” says 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.”
Some restaurants have already begun adapting their business models towards new drug laws, according to RT.com.
“In Orange County, California, where marijuana is legal, Taco Bell has partnered with ride-sharing app Lyft to launch ‘Taco Mode,’ a feature that allows passengers to order food from an in-car menu which can then be picked up from a drive-through,” the news site reports.
Cannabis Users Vs. National Average
The percentage of respondents who said they had patronized McDonalds in the four-week period was 10% higher than the national average, according to the study.
That number jumps up even higher for Taco Bell. Cannabis users are 43% more likely to visit the Mexican fast food chain than your average American consumer.
Wendy’s and Burger King did not experience so enormous of an increase. Cannabis users were 17% and 19% more likely to eat at these restaurants, respectively, than your average U.S. citizen. While still a noticeable uptick, that’s not the massive benefit to business enjoyed by Taco Bell thanks to legal pot
Subway actually dipped among cannabis users. According to the report, users were 10% less likely to purchase food from Subway locations than someone not consuming legal cannabis.
How these percentages and trends change moving forward, as Stein aptly stated, will have a lot to do with how these brands recognized the traits of, and market towards, the increasingly expanding number of legal cannabis users.
Kyle Swartz is editor of Cannabis Regulator. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kswartzz. Read his recent piece: This Is Your Average Cannabis User in Denver.