While the Biden Administration has threatened regulate out of existence home gas cooking stoves due, to a perceived link to childhood asthma, there’s another curious connection with the breathing condition that affects so many: States that have legalized cannabis are seeing more children’s asthma, according to a university study.
Researchers at the City University of New York examined data from the National Survey on Children’s Health from 2011 to 2019. They found a reduction in childhood asthma in 2011-2012 and 2018-2019, but predominantly in states with no cannabis legalization.
The rate of childhood asthma rose among teenagers, particularly among non-Hispanic youth in states with recreational legalization in 2018-2019, compared to 2011-2012. The increase was small, but statistically significant.
“The findings suggest that state-level cannabis policy may have an impacts on children’s respiratory health,” study author Renee Goodwin said.
“Exposure to secondhand smoke is a key risk factor for asthma among children. This study offers a critical first step in identifying a key children’s health concern emerging in the context of rapid, ongoing changes in cannabis policy that are unaccompanied by clinical or public health guidelines for parents,” said Goodwin, who is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said,
Alaska has had legal recreational marijuana laws on and off since the 1970s, but in 2014, voters passed an initiative to allow commercial growth, manufacture, sales, and regulation of cannabis. A 2020 study by the Alaska Department of Health revealed that 86% of cannabis users in Alaska were smoking it, as opposed to using edibles or tinctures of the plant.
Before Alaska’s law went into effect in 2015, the CDC reported that 44,865 Alaskans were diagnosed with asthma, 8.1% of the population.
By 2020, CDC data showed over 48,000 Alaskans were diagnosed with asthma, nearly 8.9% of the population. That is close to a 1% increase in asthma, a statistic that mirrors what the CUNY study found in states where cannabis has been legalized.
Colorado legalized weed in 2014, the year it also reported an 8.4% asthma rate. By 2020, that rate had jumped to 9.6%.
Meanwhile, while the Biden Administration seeks to remove gas stoves from homes, it is also working on an initiative to legalize cannabis at the federal level.
In October, during an announcement about his pardon of all federal convictions relating to simple pot possession, President Biden said he is going to work on declassifying cannabis as a drug covered by the Controlled Substances Act: “Third, “I am asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. Federal law currently classifies marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the classification meant for the most dangerous substances. This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic.”
There’s support from Congress that could make Biden’s plans more likely. In a letter to Biden in December, 2022, lawmakers — mostly Democrat — noted that 21 states had already decriminalized adult use of marijuana, and 37 states have medical marijuana licensing. Congressman Don Young, who died in March of 2022, was a leader in the movement to legalize pot and was a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, which has been a registered caucus of Congress since 2017.