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Coming back to France in the near future?

Some Colorado cities — not naming names here, but you can guess — are still opposed to recreational marijuana. But other towns — like tiny Moffat, population 120 — have embraced the plant that is filling their treasuries.

Moffat had almost no sources of revenue until Mike Biggio’s Area 420, a collective of grow operations that is one of the state’s largest, sprang to life in the San Luis Valley town.

Now, according to a June 7 report in The Denver Post, the town is reaping huge benefits from the cannabis industry — some $400,000 in excise taxes in 2021, and Biggio is spearheading a bid to change Moffat’s name to Kush.

What appeared to be the entire citizenry turned out at a June 7 town board of trustees meeting, when Biggio presented his name change proposal, the Alamosa Citizen reported June 9. Biggio said he wants to rebrand the area as the “Napa Valley of Cannabis.”

A lively discussion ensued, with considerable support from citizens who said the name change would stimulate tourism and benefit the area’s economy. 

Opponents said it would have a detrimental effect on the town’s identity and dishonor its namesake, railroad entrepreneur David Moffat. Having to rename streets and the school system, which would become Kush Consolidated Schools, concerned several residents.

No ordinance was proposed, and the town trustees did not call for a vote on the issue. So for now, Moffat will remain Moffat.

But one thing was accomplished: The town of Moffat is now much more widely known. The story was picked up by The Washington Post, which profiled Moffat in a June 10 article.

How high is too high?

High-potency cannabis products can increase the risk of psychosis and addiction, according to a new study published July 25 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Researchers at two British universities reached that conclusion after analyzing data from 20 studies — the first systematic review of the association of cannabis potency with mental health and addiction.

People who suffered first episodes of cannabis-related psychosis were much more likely to have used products with high levels of THC than products with low levels, the researchers found. 

The researchers also reviewed studies that focused on anxiety and depression and found varied results.

Other research has found that the potency of cannabis increased about 0.29 percent per year from 1970 to 2017, according to a July 26 report on the study by CBS News.

Products like wax and shatter can contain very high concentrations of THC — up to 85 to 90 percent.

Some states where cannabis is legal, including Colorado, are considering caps on potency, as well as warning labels. Vermont is the only state that currently caps potency (30 percent for flower and 60 percent for concentrates), the CBS report states.

The researchers didn’t state what constituted high vs. low potency, as those measures differed in the studies, but they called for further study of the psychological effects of high-potency cannabis products. Those findings will be relevant for health care, public health guidelines and policies on cannabis sales, they say.

France tests medical pot

Medical cannabis has been banned in France since 1953, but that could change pending the results of a two-year pilot program.

Recreational marijuana imports, production and sales are forbidden, and the French National Assembly refused in January to pass a law related to legalization.

But the lawmakers authorized clinical trials of medical cannabis, which started in March 2021, and earlier this year they allowed cannabis cultivation — under strict rules — to supply the pilot program.

The trials are concentrating on the use of cannabis to treat cancer, nerve damage and epilepsy.

Some of the reefer reluctance stems from efforts to promote hashish as a wonder drug in 19th century France, says David Guba Jr., assistant professor of history at Bard Early College Baltimore, who studies cannabis and colonialism in France.

Back in the mid-1800s, Paris was the epicenter of an international movement to medicalize hashish, which is produced from the resin of cannabis plants.

Hashish medications often were adulterated with other intoxicants and tainted with racist notions that stemmed from the colonial view of Muslim countries, where the products originated, Guba writes in a July 13 article in theconversation.com.

The medications failed to help the victims of a cholera epidemic in 1848-49 and, driven also by reports of hashish-induced psychosis, the drug fell into disfavor, Guba says.

Guba believes French doctors and policymakers can learn from their country’s earlier experience with cannabis-based medications if they free their minds from colonialist perceptions. 

Jeanne Davant is a graduate of the University of North Carolina. She worked for daily newspapers in D.C., North Carolina and Colorado, and has taught journalism and creative writing. She joined the Colorado Publishing House in 2017.