New Hampshire is one step closer to becoming the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana.


On Wednesday, the state House voted 286-64 to approve legislation that would allow patients with chronic or terminal diseases to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommended it.

The bill allows for state-licensed marijuana dispensaries to open, and grants patients or caregivers the right to grow up to three cannabis plants.

"This overwhelming vote comes as a great relief to patients who have been waiting years to legally follow their doctors’ advice," Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement. "Patients should not have to live in fear of arrest in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, and it’s a great relief for them to see such strong, bipartisan support from the House."

The bill now moves to the New Hampshire Senate, where similar legislation was approved in 2009 and 2012.

The Republican-led New Hampshire legislature approved a medical marijuana bill last year, but it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch. The governor claimed the legislation was too open to abuse by those who didn't really need the drug.

The state's newly-elected Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has given medical marijuana advocates hope that the bill will be signed into law this year.

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[Elderly man smokes medical marijuana via ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com]