CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – The Legislature voted Wednesday to make New Hampshire the 14th state to legalize marijuana for severely ill people, but Gov. John Lynch must decide whether to sign the measure.

Lynch, a Democrat, said he has not read the final bill, but he remains concerned about allowing marijuana cultivation and distribution to spread.

Supporters say New Hampshire’s proposed law stands out because it would bar users or their caregivers from growing marijuana. The weed would have to be grown and distributed in as many as three nonprofit “compassion centers.”

State Rep. Evalyn Merrick, D-Lancaster, is the bill’s main sponsor. She told the House in April that she used marijuana to quell queasiness from chemotherapy for blood cancer in 2002.

On Wednesday, she called the final bill “the best medical marijuana legislation in the country.”

It draws on language in a law passed this month in Rhode Island, but doesn’t allow personal cultivation for medical users or caregivers.

New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte opposes legalizing marijuana for anyone.

“By characterizing marijuana as a medicine – a characterization that is not supported by the medical research – (the bill) will send a false and misleading message to New Hampshire residents, and our youth in particular, that marijuana is harmless,” she said in an April 28 letter to the Senate. “In fact, marijuana is an addictive drug that poses significant health consequences to its users, including those who may be using it for medical purposes.”

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Obama administration will not target dispensers who follow state laws.


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