Mountain News: As cannabis becomes more available, questions remain 

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK - Sky high As North American mountain towns adapt to legalized cannabis, some are raising concerns about its impact on mental health.
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  • Sky high As North American mountain towns adapt to legalized cannabis, some are raising concerns about its impact on mental health.

BANFF, Alta.—Mountain towns continue to smooth the rollout of stores selling cannabis to recreational customers. In Alberta, Banff has five applications for retail shops. In Colorado, the town of Fraser has adopted new regulations that permit extended business hours and locations.

But is this increased access truly a good thing? Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter, has written a short book called Tell Your Children: The Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence. In it, he argues that cannabis poses more risk than has been commonly acknowledged.

That there is correlation between mental illness and cannabis consumption is undisputed. Whether cannabis use causes mental illness is disputed by the industry. The National Academy of Medicine, however, does see causality. "Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk."

This and other parts of Berenson's book are dissected by Malcolm Gladwell (think: "Outliers,") in The New Yorker. He pointed out something that cannabis users probably know very well. Recent developments in plant breeding and growing techniques have caused the typical concentration of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, to go from the low single digits to more than 20 per cent. It is, he said, a difference like that between a swig of near-beer to a tequila shot.

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