Science Explained: Why Does Weed Make You Hungry?

Cannabis has been making people hungry since BC.

In popular culture, this term is known as the “munchies” and there are even entire YouTube series dedicated to this particular effect of weed.

You’ve probably heard about it:

About 15-30 minutes after smoking a joint you get an uncontrollable urge to eat.

And eat a lot…

For some, this is cool. Besides giving you a short-term appetite boost, weed also amplifies your sense of taste, which means that everything you eat tastes amazing.

For regular smokers, however, munchies can cause a weight gain that is not always desirable.

But why does weed make us so hungry?

The answer lies in the way weed stimulates our brain.

Humans have a cellular system of cellular activators and reactors, called the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system controls many processes in our body and is in charge of cellular communication. This system consists of activators and receptors. So far, scientists have identified two main receptors: CB1 and CB2.

CB1 receptors are located in the brain while CB2 receptors are spread throughout the body, mostly present in our immune system.

When activated, these receptors regulate a whole bunch of processes, including appetite.

But what activates them?

A series of activators called endocannabinoids. Endo meaning produced by our body. Two of the most prominent endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol.

Weed, however, contains substances that produce similar functions, called cannabinoids. This time they are exogenous.

When THC enters our bloodstream (after smoking or eating cannabis) it basically mimics our body’s endocannabinoid activators and then stimulates CB1 receptors, producing effects like hunger, happiness, anti-inflammation, pain relief and many more.

In fact, increased appetite is a direct product of THC stimulating specific CB1 receptors which increase the levels of hormones that make you feel hungry, regardless of whether you ate 10 minutes or 10 hours ago. (1)

a guy eating

How to avoid getting munchies from weed?

For most healthy, recreational users, munchies are just a part of the regular weed smoking routine. However, some people try to resist the temptation if they’re on a diet or a particular fitness plan.

If you’re not into gorging on simple carbs like Pringles and Skittles here are some tips to stop, suppress or completely avoid munchies altogether:

  1. Fill up your stomach with water. This will keep you feeling full, just make sure to keep a bottle on you at all times as it will also help with cottonmouth.
  2. Eat a large meal right before smoking. It will be much easier to resist the temptation of knowing that you just ate.
  3. Grab some chewing gum. Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva which helps with both mouth dryness as well as munchies.
  4. Eat some salad. Make a salad with lettuce, broccoli, celery and other vegetables that you have on hand. These are low carb and full of fiber so you won’t pack on any weight.
  5. Brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth will supposedly suppress your appetite, although I’ve never tried it myself.

Be sure to try these tips for yourself and see what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to suppressing munchies, almost everything is subjective.


  1. Riggs PK, Vaida F, Rossi SS, Sorkin LS, Gouaux B, Grant I, Ellis RJ; A pilot study of the effects of cannabis on appetite hormones in HIV-infected adult men; Brain Research; January 2012; 1431:46-52
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