New Jersey is going to join 15 other states of the US and the District of Columbia to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. However, the law in New Jersey will be more stringent than in other states.

New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday announced that doctors in New Jersey will be allowed to prescribe cannabis.

Doctors in New Jersey will be allowed to legally prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from specific illness like HIV and cancer if other treatments have failed.

However, the new law will restrict patients from growing their own crop at home.

The measure which would allow the medical use of marijuana was signed by the governor's predecessor, Jon Corzine, in January 2010. Christie after joining the office wanted amendment in the bill and delayed the implementation of the law.

This is one of those decisions that's not an easy one for me as governor, Christie said at a news conference.

I had to balance the benefit that will go to citizens in pain versus some potential risks to the folks that we're authorizing as dispensaries and to state employees, he said.

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

California, in 1996, allowed the medical use of marijuana and was the first state in the US to do so. In 1998, Alaska, Washington and Oregon followed the path. After a year (in 1999) Maine made a law allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis.

Seeing the increasing use of marijuana for medical purposes, three more states - Colorado, Hawaii and Nevada allowed the 'controversial' medicine in 2000.

Later on, Vermont (2004), West Coast state Rhode Island (2006), New Mexico (2007), Michigan (2008), and Arizona and DC (2010) also joined the list. Delaware allowed the use of the drug in 2011.