By Mary Ellen Godin
HARTFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - The Connecticut Senate passed a bill on Saturday legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes with tight restrictions aimed at avoiding problems that have plagued some of the 16 other states where pot is now legal.
After nearly 10 hours of debate, the Senate voted 21-13 in favor of the measure, which already cleared the House.
Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy was expected to sign the bill. Once he does, Connecticut will join 16 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing use of marijuana to treat sick patients.
Connecticut's legislation calls for tight regulation of the plant, a move advocates say is aimed at avoiding problems that have plagued some of the other states, include disagreements with the federal government.
Under the bill, patients and their caregivers must register with the Department of Consumer Protection. In addition, their doctors must certify there is a medical need for marijuana to be dispensed, including such debilitating conditions as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. And, medical marijuana would be dispensed only by pharmacists with a special license.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Beech)