Pot for Patients in Massachusetts

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BOSTON: Six months after the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes was approved by the state legislature, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has proposed guidelines for its use. The regulations will make prescriptions for marijuana available to those who suffer from glaucoma, asthma or chemotherapy-related nausea, but off-limits to those afflicted with AIDS or multiple sclerosis, conditions covered under the allowance in California. While similar propositions passed last year by California and Arizona unleashed a national uproar, the Massachusetts initiative has attracted less notice at home, where the proposal "is not blipping on anybody's radar screen," says Sam Allis, TIME's Boston Bureau Chief. One reason: the state's more methodical approach to the problem. Unlike California, which allows patients to use marijuana for such vague needs as "diet control," based on a doctor's oral recommendation alone, Massachusetts has crafted tighter rules to protect physicians and patients from federal investigation for possession and improper dispensing of the illegal drug. A state health board of three doctors will determine which patients are eligible to receive an official permit for use of the drug.