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New Jersey is expected to become the 14th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana, making the strictest marijuana laws in the nation.
It will be one of the lasts duties by Gov. Jon Corzine who has said he'll sign it into law before leaving office.
According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, the state legislature approved legalizing medical marijuana by a vote of 48-14 in the Assembly and 25-13 in the state Senate. It would make New Jersey one of the few on the East Coast to legalize the use of marijuana to help patients with chronic illnesses, but calls for the strictest medical marijuana law in the nation.
Officials say the measure would make the state medical marijuana law the only one in the nation to ban home growing of the plant.
It would allow patients diagnosed with severe illnesses like cancer, AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis to have access to marijuana grown and distributed through state-monitored dispensaries.
Patients who qualify will be allowed to buy up to two ounces of marijuana a month at state-sponsored dispensaries.
Under the bill, the state would help set the cost of the marijuana. The measure does not require insurance companies to pay for it.
Marijuana use would be restricted to private property under the measure. Patients with legal prescriptions could still be arrested for using marijuana in public, and they could still face driving under the influence charges if they used marijuana and got behind the wheel, officials said.
Several other states including California already have legalized medical marijuana. In California doctors have wide latitude to prescribe marijuana for patients, to be distributed through medical marijuana dispensaries.
In addition, as previously discussed more onus has been put on states since the Obama administration's decision not to interfere in states' medical marijuana laws.
New Jersey's new bill has been passed in time for Corzine to sign it before Gov.-elect Chris Christie takes over on January 19.