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Massachusetts Governor Under Pressure To Speed Up Access To Medical Marijuana

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DEVAL PATRICK
SOUTH BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 20: Boston Convention Center - Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick greeted people during the 44th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast held at the Boston Convention Center on Monday morning, Jan. 20, 2014. The breakfast is the nation's longest-running event dedicated to the memory of Dr. King, according to the event website. (Photo by Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) | Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is being pressured to speed up access to medical marijuana.

Advocates for medical marijuana rallied outside the Massachusetts statehouse Thursday as lawmakers held a hearing on a bill that would legalize marijuana in the state, according to the AP. Residents with multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and other debilitating illnesses attended the rally.

Though the state's medical marijuana law went into effect in January 2013, dispensaries won't open until this summer. Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance Executive Director Matthew Allen said, "we've lost sight of what this is really about."

“The process has become politicized," Allen said. "This is about compassion for people with serious illnesses who still do not have access to their medicine.”

Advocates with marijuana reform group Bay State Repeal have already begun laying the initial groundwork in order to begin coordinating a campaign to legalize pot with a ballot initiative in 2016.

For more on the rally and the hearing in Massachusetts, read more from the AP.

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