Lawmakers are committed to seeing medical marijuana dispensaries reappear in Michigan and today was the first step toward that. The state supreme court ruled them illegal last year but now Democrats and Republicans are working together on this.
"Some of our sickest patients have struggled for a long time to gain consistent access to medical marijuana," said Robin Schneider, a Legislative Liaison for the National Patients Rights Association.
For medical marijuana advocates like Schneider, Wednesday was a small victory as a Senate Government Operations Committee passed two bills to the Senate floor.
"I wanted today to send a message to everyone that we intend to move this process to the end," said Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe).
One bill gives towns more control over the opening of dispensaries in their communities. The other would allow the sale of marijuana in other forms such as edibles.
"We're trying to move forward as well as we can without putting anybody at risk," Senator Richardville said after the hearing. "In fact the population is much more at risk now without these bills."
Lawmakers say these bills are far from their final form, with wording as a main concern.
"I would hate to continue to create this murky area where we don't really have a solution for the people of Michigan," said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing).
The bills face significant opposition from people concerned with regulations.
"There is no regard to the protection of neighborhoods communities children and private citizens living where the growing processing and or distribution of medical marijuana occurs," said Elaine Womboldt, who testified at the hearing.
But Schneider says theses changes are needed to ensure patient safety.
"Without the testing and without the any regulatory framework it's very hard for the patients to know what exactly they are consuming," she said.
It's an issue lawmakers will revisit when they return in August.