Initiative 502 has been implemented and up to one ounce of cannabis possession is no longer illegal in the state of Washington, but are Seattle area mental health resources up to the challenge? Sound Mental Health, formerly Seattle Mental Health, includes marijuana in its list of drugs for which it offers treatment. All mental health agencies and hospitals could see an upsurge in clientele if the fears about cannabis use causing mental illness are correct.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill observes that studies have shown a strong correlation between the use of cannabis and the presence of mental illness. Ever since the movie Reefer Madness, the public has feared that such a correlation was casual, however it may be that users are self-medicating with a non-psychedelic component of cannabis, cannabidiol, which acts as an anti-psychotic.
Due to limitations in research, it is unknown which people will develop mental illness after trying cannabis for the first time. However, the recent legalization has set in motion a large scale experiment, the results of which would conceivably require intervention and treatment. The best course of action is individual awareness of psychotic symptoms that could be triggered or exacerbated by the use of cannabis.
According to the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations and delusions that directly affect one’s quality of life such as an ability to leave the home and have meaningful relationships with others. Cannabis users with a concern about addiction or mental health should contact their primary physician for a referral, or access the following Seattle mental health resources.
Sound Mental Health - (206) 302-2200
Community Psychiatric Clinic – (206) 545-2354 (mental health) – (206) 632-5009 (addiction)
24 Hour Crisis Line - (866) 4-CRISIS