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New Jersey becomes 16th state to approve medical marijuana use

July 19, 2011 |  5:52 pm

New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie 7-19-11

New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie said this afternoon he would permit a bill allowing the dispensing of marijuana for specific medical purposes to become law.

The measure was signed by Christie's predcecessor and Christie said he had doubts about it. But in coming weeks, New Jersey's doctors will be able to legally prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from a specific list of illnesses including HIV and cancer if other treatments have failed.

The Garden State does, however, prohibit home-growing of cannabis.

New Jersey joins 15 others states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical marijuana use.

Christie said he had initial concerns about opening state dispensaries to federal prosecution. But although he could not obtain a clear answer from the U.S. Justice Department, he decided they faced little risk of that if operating under the new state measure.

"My desire all along has been to bring compassionate care to the people who need it the most,'' Christie said during a news conference. "This is a narrow and medically-based program that will not lend itself to abuses that we have seen particularly in California and Colorado."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Mel Evans / Associated Press (Christie, July 19).

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