Connecticut's governor, a cancer survivor, vetoed a bill that would have allowed people with certain serious illnesses to use marijuana, saying it was fraught with problems and sent a mixed message to children.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Tuesday that she struggled with the decision.

"I am not unfamiliar with the incredible pain and heartbreak associated with battling cancer," the Republican said. Rell was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, a few months after taking office, and she underwent a mastectomy.

The bill she vetoed would have allowed people older than 18 with medical conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS to grow and use four marijuana plants after getting written permission from a doctor and registering with the state.

The issue pits broader patients' rights against concerns of legalized access to an illicit drug. Twelve states let some patients use marijuana despite federal laws against it.

"I think this is a big step backward," said Republican state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, a widow who risked arrest more than 20 years ago to obtain marijuana for her husband while he struggled with bone cancer.

TV talk show host Montel Williams, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, lobbied at the state Capitol in support of the bill. He said he uses marijuana to help alleviate the pain and debilitating symptoms.