Colorado's legal-weed boom has created an influx of business for more than just dispensaries. The state leads the country in the number of top ancillary businesses connected to the cannabis industry, but another industry with longstanding ties to the plant has also been enjoying the benefits: fast food.
Even Peyton Manning credited legal pot for the success of 21 Papa John's locations that he purchased in Denver shortly before Amendment 64 passed in 2012. And Papa's isn't seeing close to the same number of potheads as a more traditional junk-food oasis, according to a report by Green Market Report and Consumer Research Around Cannabis.
Surveying the eating habits of dispensary visitors in five cities with legalized cannabis — Denver, Las Vegas, Portland, Sacramento and Washington, D.C. — the study found that McDonald's still reigns supreme among the stoned crowd. Taco Bell, Wendy's, Burger King and Subway filled out the top five nationally; Arby’s, Chick-Fil-A, Jack in the Box, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Carl’s Jr. rounded out the top ten.
The study asked adults who purchased cannabis from a dispensary which fast-food restaurant they'd visited in the past four weeks. McDonald's dominated the results both nationally and locally, with around 45 percent of the pothead market share across the country and also in Denver visiting the golden arches after visiting a dispensary. In fact, the Mile High's top five lined up exactly with national preferences. National chains dominated the local list thanks to their quantity of locations, according to the research team, which could explain why popular regional chains like Good Times and Raising Cane's didn't rank.
"McDonald's wins by virtue of the sheer number of locations...by default, really,” said Jeff Stein, vice president of Consumer Research Around Cannabis, in announcing the results. “Those competitors that better understand cannabis users and their consumer habits can certainly close the gap by integrating what they learn through their marketing efforts."
Here are the preferences of the five cities in the study:
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