Mountain News: Good medicine or is it something to ale you? 

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JACKSON, Wyo. — With Colorado and Washington now legalizing marijuana, and others thinking about it, an obvious question is just how healthy it really is.

Doctors contacted by the Jackson Hole News&Guide take a dim view. Why would you voluntarily put smoke in your lungs, one asks? You know it doesn't belong there. Coughing is a sign of that.

Studies have shown that long-term smoking of marijuana is associated with symptoms of obstructive lung disease.

How about cancer? A 2006 review of literature found no link between pot smoking and cancer, but the authors mention a "biological plausibility."

Torching up before the start of an outdoor adventure is common with many mountain bikers, skiers and others. Is there any harm in that?

Not a good idea, said Dr. Will Smith, an emergency medical specialist and medical director for Grand Teton National Park. When high, people aren't thinking as clearly as usual and don't always react normally.

"It's definitely one of those things I'd advise against," he said. "I'd avoid alcohol or any other drugs when you're out in the wilderness as well as driving or any work activities where you rely on decision making."

That said, he was unaware of any studies linking the use of marijuana to mountain accidents, the News&Guide notes.

OK, so how about marijuana's reputation for causing those smoking it to lose their focus and become forgetful. There, the documentation is clearer, although the exact cause is not.

"Heavy users displayed significantly greater impairment than light users on attentional/executive functions," researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Effects linger even after a day of abstinence.

How about effects of pot use on those who are young and those who have long used it but are now getting old?

Not any evidence of it contributing to dementia or Alzheimer's, doctors tell the News&Guide. But as for youngsters — the picture is becoming clearer that adolescent smoking can produce wobbly brains.

"Evidence is mounting that regular marijuana use increases the chance that a teenager will develop psychosis, a pattern of unusual thoughts or perceptions, such as believing the television is transmitting secret messages," said Ann MacDonald, editor of Harvard Health.

"It also increases the risk of developing schizophrenia, a disabling brain disorder that not only causes psychosis, but also problems concentrating and loss of emotional expression."

Scam artist targets the wrong guy this time

ASPEN, Colo. — A con artist may have had some success as he called people in the Aspen, Vail and Glenwood Springs area, but he came up short when he called a number in Aspen.

His pitch was to tell people that there were warrants for their arrests, that he was with the local sheriff's department, and that they needed to provide their debit and credit card numbers to resolve the issue.

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