Massachusetts has legalized the use of medical marijuana in its state legislature, becoming the first to do so in the U.S. The bill, which passed the Senate late on Tuesday, allows patients to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, and it will go into effect next week.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has also approved a pilot program for the recreational sale of marijuana in the state.
It’s the first time a state has legalized medical marijuana, although the state is one of a handful of states where marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes.
The legalization of medical cannabis is part of a broader effort by state lawmakers in Massachusetts to ease the state’s medical marijuana program, which has been beset by delays and problems with obtaining and keeping patients.
Earlier this month, Gov.
Charlie Baker announced he was delaying the legalization of recreational marijuana until next year, while a coalition of cannabis activists urged the governor to take a broader stance on the issue.
The U.K.’s Independent newspaper reported last week that some of the state health department’s officials believe that the legalization is the best option for patients in Massachusetts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.