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Does marijuana cause the munchies by affecting blood sugar levels?

Dear Cecil:

Recently, I discovered that I had hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. On my doctor's advice, I've given up coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes because of their effect on my blood sugar. But I didn't feel comfortable asking my doctor how marijuana affects blood sugar levels. Could you tell me whether I need to give up the last of my simple pleasures?

Anonymous, Los Angeles

Illustration by Slug Signorino

Cecil replies:

A good deal of research and federal money has been poured into the problem of how marijuana affects blood sugar levels. Some scientists thought, at first, that if marijuana significantly reduced blood sugar, it might account for the furious attacks of hunger (known as “munchies,” in vulgar street parlance) familiar to every marijuana user (known as “vipers,” in vulgar street parlance). Millions of dollars and millions of “reefers” (vulgar street parlance for “marijuana cigarettes”) later, the researchers concluded that dope smoking had no significant or consistent effect on blood sugar–and that, therefore, their hypothesis wasn’t worth a hill of beans. Bad news for them, good news for you. Sounds like you could use some.

Cecil Adams

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