Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

The Munchies Factor: Survey Finds McDonald's Is the Fast Food Restaurant Pot Smokers Prefer

Legal marijuana might do for flagging sales at the Golden Arches what McDonald's marketing hasn't.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Like the sun rising in the east, there’s one thing you can count on when a group of people partake of most strains of marijuana: someone is going to get the munchies.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

And if there’s no food in the house, the other thing you can count on is that someone is going to want to make a run to a fast food restaurant. Which raises the question -- which fast food restaurants see the benefit in places where people can legally use cannabis?

Turns out, the longstanding emblem of comfort food is the big winner. Marijuana users are, according to a new survey, lovin’ it at McDonald’s. More than 43 percent of the people involved in the survey listed the Golden Arches as their go-to destination after they bought legal marijuana and the inevitable munchies hit them after using it.

Taco Bell ranked a distant second place at 18 percent.

Major markets

The survey was conducted by Green Market Report and Consumer Research Around Cannabis. It’s part of a series of reports around legal marijuana that Consumer Research Around Cannabis is terming “Cannabis Freakonomics.”

Related: Support for Marijuana Legalization Is Higher Than Ever. So Is the Number of People Getting Arrested.

The two companies conducted the survey in 25 U.S. markets where marijuana is legal for either recreational or medical use, or both. To qualify, people had to have purchased marijuana from a dispensary and also gone to a fast food restaurant in the four weeks preceding the survey. Here’s the top six places people liked to go with the munchies.

  • McDonalds: 43.4 percent
  • Taco Bell:18.3 percent
  • Wendy’s: 17.8 percent
  • Burger King: 17.6 percent
  • Subway: 8.7 percent
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken: 5.5 percent

Winner by default

Before McDonald’s or the restaurant’s fans get too excited, however, they should note that those behind the survey said the Golden Arches won because it has locations everywhere.

Related: How Will Businesses Handle Legalized Marijuana in the Workplace?

Jeff Stein, vice president of Consumer Research Around Cannabis, said in a prepared statement that McDonald’s won “by default really.” He also suggested that competitors and wise entrepreneurs could cut into the fast food behemoth’s share by “better understanding cannabis users” and using what they learn in marketing outreach.

Interestingly, hipster-heavy cities and states where McDonald’s has lost popularity led the pack in loving to make a run to the Golden Arches to appease that marijuana-induced craving. For example, 46.6 percent of those in Denver favored McDonald’s. And in Sacramento, Calif., where currently only medical marijuana can legally be purchased, 48.4 percent of adults favored McDonald’s.

Most of the cities followed the overall list in popularity. But there were exceptions. For example, in Las Vegas, 24.1 percent went to Jack In the Box, just slightly behind the 27.1 percent who preferred McDonald’s. And in Washington D.C., KFC and Chick-Fil-A tied for second place at 10.3 percent, by far the highest percentage among the cities listed.

Follow on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.