Boston, MA – NAMI Mass, the state’s largest advocacy organization for people and families living with mental illness, is joining a growing coalition of groups voicing opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts.
“Marijuana poses a danger for those with mental illness and young people predisposed to mental illness because of the neurological actions of the drug,” says NAMI Mass Executive Director Laurie Martinelli. “In addition, marijuana use can hinder the effective treatment of mental illness.”
NAMI Mass is issuing this statement from its Board of Directors strongly opposing the ballot measure saying, “Legalizing recreational marijuana use would pose a great threat to the health and wellbeing of those with mental illness as well as young people predisposed to mental illness.”
Research shows many indicators of mental health including psychosis, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, brain function, and psychosocial functioning are all worsened by non-medical marijuana use.
NAMI Mass believes the availability of recreational marijuana will pose a great risk to those with mental illness because of both the direct effects on the brain and the consequent effects on treatment adherence.
In its 2013 “Position Statement on Marijuana as Medicine, the American Psychiatric Association wrote, “There is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development.”
NAMI Mass joins several prominent state organizations and associations calling for a defeat of the ballot initiative including: the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Association of School Superintendents, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare and all Massachusetts District Attorneys, in addition to Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.
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About the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass)
Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is a nonprofit, grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. It is the state’s voice on mental illness, with 21 local chapters and more than 2,000 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health challenges and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and promoting recovery. To that end, the organization offers free, peer-led programs that provide resources, insights, coping skills and genuine support.