Former Oakland University student Cooper Hazel, who graduated with a degree in economics in 2021, conducted a research paper entitled “The Munchies: Marijuana Legalization and Food Consumption in Washington,” which examined one of the most under-explored areas of economics : the effect Recreational marijuana use may have an impact on a person’s spending on food.
Such a topic was first discussed by Hazel during his Urban and Regional Economics course in Fall 2019 with Associate Professor of Economics Timothy Hodge, Ph.D. When he started this research project in coordination with Dr. Hodge, Hazel saw strong endorsement of his graduate school and professional ambitions.
“Business is about making life better and increasing well-being, and this research could help me help Americans,” Hazel said Oakland News. “I got interested in public marijuana policy, and this was a great place to start.”
Dr. Hodge discussed the early difficulties of the academic research process, specifically highlighting Hazel’s learning experiences with the time required for professional research and the rigor of data collection and analysis on a tight schedule. The literature review of the few similar (but lengthy) economics studies was also something that Dr. Hodge helped build his appreciation for Hazel, particularly in the context of a master’s degree in economics or an MBA.
“I think Hazel has grown a lot,” said Dr. Hodge. “I think he has a much better understanding of what the research process entails … It gave him a brief glimpse of whether he wanted to continue” [a career] in academia. ”
The studies conducted by the two found that there was a statistically meaningful association between the amount of recreational marijuana consumed and the amount of money someone spends on “snack foods,” which are typically dense in calories and high in sugar (like chips or biscuits). ). Additionally, the paper claims that there is a statistically significant increase in the amount of drunk driving and the amount of taxable income that goes into the economy when someone uses recreational marijuana.
“Instead of not being informed about the real effects of this policy” [public policies concerning recreational marijuana], you must try to understand every aspect of these guidelines, ”said Dr. Hodge. “Informed citizens are important. Often times we don’t have the answers for everything and assume that this is just bad policy. Obviously, there are arguments against recreational marijuana for children’s health. But are there other arenas in which we now have to deal with adults who can make this decision themselves? ”
Recreational marijuana was in Michigan legalized in 2018, and in 2020 the State of Michigan collected $ 169 million in taxes and fees in the marijuana industry, with the marijuana sourcing and selling market sum up $ 3.2 billion.
“If the food industry goes up, if we see an increase in sales, that could maybe increase the number of jobs [generated indirectly by the cannabis market]”Said Dr. Hodge. “Cooper saw a research opportunity here and capitalized on it. In this joint research project he was very interested in economics. I knew about Cooper, I had him in class, and I knew he had the potential goal of going to college. I think he has grown a lot from this experience. “