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Breaking down a stigma: Expert talks legalization of pot and mental health issues

Last Updated Sep 23, 2018 at 4:02 pm MDT

(660NEWS file photo)

Medical marijuana was legalized in 2001 but expert says stigma remains

Fagin hopes when recreational pot is also legal more people will be open to trying cannabis as medical treatment

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – This past week the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) released a report suggesting certain mental health issues were at epidemic levels.

One advocate is hoping people will be more open to natural treatments after the word “legal” is put in front of “recreational marijuana” next month.

Calgary 420‘s Keith Fagin says even though there has been a number of studies pointing to positive effects, people still shy away from using cannabis as a treatment for mental health issues and other conditions.

Medical marijuana was legalized in 2001, but there’s still a stigma surrounding it. Fagin says the attitude is hard to change after decades of prohibition.

“It can create anxiety, but that can be tied to the prohibition of cannabis–this fear of being arrested if you consume a joint,” said Fagin.

“We need to really strongly look at cannabis because it does help people. We know it’s helping people getting off of opiates. We know it’s helping people with mental health issues, with mood improvement, pain improvement.”

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After nearly 100 years of prohibition, the stigma won’t be wiped out overnight, but Fagins thinks with more time and more research it might become less taboo.

“They’re running studies with controlled groups with people who don’t consume cannabis against people who do consume cannabis and they’re finding a lot of benefits,” he said.

“We’ve been seeing that over the last 10 years now where there have been a lot more doctors open to this. The key has been education and [eventually] there will be more prescribing it.”

He says with the evidence already available, people should have an “open mind”.