TRENTON - New Jersey moved closer to allowing chronically ill patients to smoke marijuana to relieve symptoms of pain and nausea by advancing a medical marijuana bill yesterday.

The bill was approved, 6-1, by the Senate Health Committee following a lengthy and sometimes passionate hearing that attracted scores of supporters and detractors including a doctor, multiple sclerosis patients, and a marijuana grower from Canada.

New Jersey would become the 14th state with a medical marijuana law on its books.

The bill heads to the full Senate for possible consideration. The Assembly held an informational hearing on the proposal last year, but has not scheduled it for a hearing. Similar proposals did not advance during the prior legislative session.

- AP