On his last full day in office, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine will sign a medical marijuana bill into law, Nbcnewyork has learned.
It passed the legislature last week in a lame duck session that was contentious but ultimately easy considering the debate surrounding the measure..
Corzine, who leaves office tomorrow after losing a battle for reelection to Governor-elect Chris Christie, has decided however, not to sign the bill with the flourish of a public event that usually accompanies such measures. It will be done as he sits with staff in the governor's downtown Newark office.
Because of the rules that must first be drawn up, the first patients aren't expected to be legally using 'Garden State Green' until near the end of the year.
Under terms of the bill as passed by the legislature, only those with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cancer, Aids and ALS (Lou Gehrigs's disease) will be able to buy marijuana for pain relief.
When Corzine passes the measure, New Jersey will become the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana. The other states that permit medical use of marijuana are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
New Jersey's legislation authorizes the Department of Health to issue to patients with "debilitating medical conditions" registry ID cards that allow them to use marijuana. Patients with specified diseases such as cancer and glaucoma must also demonstrate severe or chronic pain, nausea, seizures, muscle spasms or wasting syndrome to qualify.
Patients with registry cards would be immune from arrest or prosecution for the medical use of marijuana.