Scientists Discover a Startling Potential Link Between Marijuana Legalization and Asthma

Marijuana Leaf Illustration

Marijuana has been a subject of much debate in recent years, particularly with regard to its legalization for recreational use in some states. While its effects on various health conditions continue to be studied, a recent study has found an increase in asthma cases among teens in states where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized. This highlights the importance of continuing to monitor and research the potential health impacts of marijuana, especially on vulnerable populations.

A rise in asthma cases has been observed in children from certain racial and ethnic minority groups in states where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized.

A recent study conducted by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and The City University of New York has revealed that there has been a rise in the prevalence of asthma among teenagers in states where recreational use of cannabis has been legalized, as well as among children from certain racial and ethnic minority groups in states with recreational legalization, in comparison to states where it remains fully illegal.

The findings of the study offer initial indications that the legalization and commercialization of cannabis for adult use could be linked to an increase in asthma prevalence. This study is the first to investigate the connection between changes in cannabis policy for adult use and the incidence of asthma among children and teenagers. The findings have been published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

“Our findings suggest that state-level cannabis policy could have downstream impacts on children’s respiratory health,” said Renee D. Goodwin, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and professor at The City University of New York. “Cannabis use is increasing among adults with children in the home, particularly in states which have legalized for medical or recreational use. 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.”

Asthma affects approximately 5 million children and is the most common chronic condition affecting children in the nation. The researchers used data from the 2011-2019 National Survey on Children’s Health, a representative sample of the physical and mental health of non-institutionalized children in the U.S. ages 0-17 years old.

Nationally, a statistically significant decrease in the prevalence of pediatric asthma was reported from 2011-2012 to 2016-2017, with no decline thereafter. Relative to states where cannabis was fully illegal, the prevalence of asthma increased slightly among adolescents 12-17 years old and among children identifying with non-Hispanic minoritized race and ethnic groups in states where cannabis was legal for adult recreational use.

Cannabis use has been increasing among adults with minor children in the home and is more common among those who live in states where cannabis is legal for recreational use. An earlier study by Goodwin found that, among parents with minor children, cannabis use was observed in 12 percent of parents in states with legal cannabis for recreational purposes, followed by parents residing in states with legalized cannabis for medical purposes (9.5 percent), with the lowest prevalence seen in parents in states with no cannabis laws (6 percent).

“Increased adult cannabis use across the U.S. may inadvertently impact asthma among youth. In the context of the rapidly increasing legalization of adult (21 and older) use and commercialization in the U.S., an evidence base is urgently needed to inform legislators, policymakers, clinicians, and the public on the potential health impact of increasing secondhand cannabis smoke (SCS) exposure among children. Yet, no clinical nor public education regarding child exposure to SCS is available or routinely offered to parents,” noted Goodwin.

“While tremendous progress has been made in asthma management in concert with tobacco control over the past several decades, the possibility that increased adult cannabis use may pose new risks, requires more in-depth study and, in particular, to learn whether SCS is associated with increases in asthma morbidity, including symptom frequency, use of rescue medicines, impairment—including missed school days — and emergency medical services.

“We believe that more research is urgently needed to estimate the potential consequences of increased adult use of cannabis in the community for children’s respiratory health and that this work should come before, or at least be done contemporaneously with, the widespread commercialization of cannabis for adult use in U.S. states,” observed Goodwin.”

Reference: “Cannabis legalization and childhood asthma in the United States: An ecologic analysis” by Renee D. Goodwin, Katarzyna Wyka, Man Luo, Andrea H. Weinberger, and Meyer Kattan, 30 December 2022, Preventive Medicine.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2022.107414

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

12 Comments on "Scientists Discover a Startling Potential Link Between Marijuana Legalization and Asthma"

  1. I am seeking any info on things that may help fight Schizophrenia, especially the voices that never stop talking and with 2-3 demons hollering. Antipsychotic poisons cure nothing, they may lower voices a little but side effects are major, even the life span is reduced by 15-25 yrs when using Antipsychotics.

  2. Nationally, a statistically significant decrease in the prevalence of pediatric asthma was reported from 2011-2012 to 2016-2017, with no decline thereafter.

    That time frame correlates with states that legalized marijuana, and then the legalization movement slowed down….

    And the same NIH, released a study that shows that youth marijuana smoking has dropped in states that legalized. So this study flies directly in the face of that study and shows how stupid trying to use correlation methods to obtain scientific data is a FALSE and FAILED method of study.

    Teen marijuana use declined from 2019 to 2021—and hit a record low since 2011—according to a federal biennial report that was released on Monday. The declines in cannabis consumption by young people come as a growing number of states are legalizing it for adults—contrary to fears long expressed by opponents of the policy change.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) showed that 16 percent of high school students reported past 30-day cannabis use in 2021, compared to 22 percent in 2019.

    JUST RELEASED: The CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) Data Summary & Trends Report: 2011–2021 is now available. It provides a first look at key #CDCYRBS data and includes a decade of adolescent health trends. Read the report:

    — CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (@CDC_DASH) February 13, 2023

    Feel free to explain this discrepancy in an email though…….

  3. I do especially like how you used years in which there wasn’t a dramatic drop in teen marijuana use…

    Like you planned it, right?

    your study goes from 2011, – 2019…

    Teen marijuana use declined from 2019 to 2021—and hit a record low since 2011—according to a federal biennial report that was released on Monday.

    Keep skewing the numbers and using correlated data while calling yourselves “scientists” though.

  4. Jumbo the Elephant | February 26, 2023 at 11:02 am | Reply

    I have asthma, and lung congestion, and have since I was a kid in the 1970s. Then I started smoking “marijuana” recreationally. It aliviates my asthma, and clears my lungs. It is a decongestant/expectorant. I ALWAYS smoke through a water-filtration pipe that removes the tar. Without the magic green herb, I can really suffer. I tried a prescription asthma inhaler in high-school. It made my head spin it got me so “buzzed” (NOT high like the magic green herb, but more like the poison buzz of alcohol). I didn’t like the “buzz” of that pharmaceutical cr*p (and the taste was so nasty also), nor would I think it responsible to drive in that condition. And it did nothing for the congestion, nor did it really help the asthma much.

    This report looks like a bunch of “correlation” B.S. to me, not science; c*ns*rv*t*v*s trying to push their totalitarian policies.

  5. Freak out.

  6. Sandra Quintana | March 9, 2023 at 9:17 pm | Reply

    Those still suffering with Asthma seriously need to have their Doctor prescribe them Advair or Breo. I’ve had it for 54 yrs and only until after my switch did I notice an improvement

  7. I just want to know who do you people get to do these test or surveys?? Because it can’t be a person that has been on marijuana and only that ! You will get a very different answer and you know it.

  8. Maria Houser Conzemius | March 19, 2023 at 7:20 pm | Reply

    I was in British Honduras in 1968 when I was 20. I asked locals why all the old people were so crazy and talking to themselves. They told me it was from smoking too much marijuana all their lives.

  9. Amazing what experts say bout cannabis n it’s effects n nothing bout the real killer with a history of death…tobacco!!

  10. Why is tobacco, whose only benefit is death not illegal?!

  11. I have had asthma most of my 65years and weed helps my asthma. I smoke it and use edibles. I know for a fact that if I didn’t smoke my asthma would be much worse. The reason that I know this is because before I started using weed I couldn’t go anywhere without my 3 different inhalers. Now I’m down to one inhaler that I use not very often

  12. Great Post! The potential link between marijuana legalization and asthma is a complex and evolving topic. It calls for rigorous scientific investigation, thoughtful policy considerations, and a commitment to public health education to ensure that the benefits and risks associated with marijuana use are well-understood and appropriately managed.

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