A bill pending in the state legislature could make Massachusetts the 17th state in the country to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

If the legislation is passed, patients suffering from a range of illnesses such as HIV, AIDS, cancer, glaucoma or other degenerative diseases could, with their doctor’s prescription, purchase marijuana to ease symptoms caused by the disease or its treatment.

Advocated have long argued that using marijuana, which doesn’t have to be smoked for its effects to be felt, can help with nausea, seizures, muscle spasms, wasting syndrome, and severe pain without impairing the patient’s mental capacity the way prescription pain medication can.

READ MORE: Massachusetts medical marijuana bill would establish regulation system with statewide dispensaries
The Republican (Springfield), June 29, 2011