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The Berkshires

Massachusetts Department of Health works to regulate medical marijuana

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Albany/HV: Massachusetts Department of Health works to regulate medical marijuana
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The Massachusetts Department of Health is working on rules to regulate the use of medical marijuana. This after more than half of state voters approved it on Election Day. YNN's Madeleine Rivera talked to Berkshire County residents to find out how they voted and how they feel.

MASSACHUSETTS -- "A man with MS took about 22 pain killers, really was doing a number on his body and he actually vaporized, instead of smoking medical marijuana for his treatment and it made him feel better, it made him be able to walk," said Courtney Allessio, a Dalton resident.

Residents say it's cases like this one that pushed voters in Massachusetts to say yes to medical marijuana. Patients with extreme health cases like glaucoma, cancer or multiple sclerosis, qualify to receive it.

"The active ingredient in marijuana is called THC, causes a release in the brain of dopamine, which is a pleasure inducing compound, a neurotransmitter, and it makes people feel good," explained Dr. Jay Ellis, a neurologist at the Neuroscience Research of the Berkshires.

Under the new law, patients would have to be approved by a doctor. Those who are approved can get a 60 day supply from a nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center. There will be about 35 distribution centers in the state.

"We ought to be able to be smart about making sure that people have access to the different options that will help them deal with the pain," said Senator Ben Downing.

"For people using medical marijuana appropriately, there are very few side effects," said Ellis.

One of the main concerns that Massachusetts residents have mentioned is that this law might lead to a slippery slope or rampant use of the drug.

"I just am not comfortable with having marijuana given out in this area. There's such an influence of drugs coming in from other areas now as it is," said Susan Barnes, a Dalton resident.

But lawmakers and the Department of Health say they working to make sure smart policies are in place to regulate the use of medical marijuana.

"I think there's a difference between medical marijuana and full scale legalization. That is not what was on the ballot nor is that the discussion at the statehouse or currently in Massachusetts. And I don't think there'd be support for that," said Downing.

This law will take effect on January 1st.

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