According to the Portland Press Herald, New Hampshire is now positioned to be the next state allowing the use of medical marijuana, bringing the number of states to 19.

House Bill 573, which clears marijuana for medical use in New Hampshire, passed the New Hampshire House legislature with overwhelming support; the final vote tallying 284-66. Medical marijuana lobbyists celebrated the bill’s passage in a way that alludes to their thinking of “it’s about time.” Matt Simon, a lobbyist with the Marijuana Policy Project said “This legislation has been a long time coming and is a much-needed victory for those with serious illnesses who find significant relief in marijuana.”

In light of the bill, four medical marijuana dispensaries are scheduled to open in 2015 and patients will be allowed to possess, with a doctor’s prescription, up to two ounces of medical marijuana. The bill recognizes marijuana as a significantly helpful means of medicinal therapy claiming that it “has many currently accepted medical uses in the United States, having been recommended by thousands of licensed physicians to at least 500,000 patients in states with medical marijuana laws.”

Several studies have cleared marijuana to be advantageous in relieving symptoms and pains of some very serious ailments like HIV, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Not only does it provide relief, but medical marijuana is also safer on the body and brain than synthetically developed OTC drugs.

The potential withdrawal symptoms of prolonged medical marijuana use are mild; disturbed sleep, irritability, and sweating among the “more serious,” whereas highly potent painkillers like oxycontin, also prescribed for multiple sclerosis, possess far worse effects. Painkillers like oxycontin have many adverse effects on the human body including nausea, vomiting, seizures, and severe allergic reactions.

In a slow, but steady, domino-effect of sorts, New Hampshire is one more state that is helping lead the country to a progressive and well-needed reform of marijuana legislation in America, away from the archaic Harry Aslinger and “Reefer Madness-like” stigma placed upon a mere plant.

Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.