Residents suffering from multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses say Gov. Deval Patrick's administration needs to expedite the process for licensing and opening medical marijuana dispensaries so that they can safely purchase the drug.

Over three dozen people rallied at the Statehouse Thursday as a legislative committee held a hearing on a bill to legalize and tax marijuana outright.

The group, organized by the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, said it has been more than 100 days since state law mandated the administration register dispensaries.

Twenty applicants have been given provisional licenses. None have final approval.

The group says the state also needs to increase the number of patients to whom individual caregivers may sell medical marijuana.

The group delivered a letter outlining their concerns to the governor and legislative leaders.  (Associated Press)