Sen. Mike Shirkey(Photo: Handout)
Lansing — A plan to keep medical marijuana dispensaries open is gaining traction in the Michigan Senate as it garnered more Republican support after a Tuesday committee hearing.
Sen. Mike Shirkey, chairman of the Senate Health Policy Committee, said after the panel’s first hearing on the legislation that he backs the plan. The Clarklake Republican said the panel hearings on the legislation are “not gonna drag out.”
Shirkey said he thinks the measure will get approved by the full Senate as the House considers its own version of the plan.
The legislation’s goal is to ensure patients will have no trouble buying medical marijuana while dispensaries await a licensing decision from the state, supporters say.
The state department responsible for regulating medical marijuana has encouraged dispensaries to voluntarily close on Dec. 15 after permit applications are due. They would stay shut until applications are approved.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has said dispensaries that stay open could hurt their chances of getting a license, calling them “a potential impediment to licensure.” But the department’s medical pot director, Andrew Brisbo, has said LARA will not ask State Police to crack down on dispensaries that disobey.
Some pot shops have already closed in hopes that they will win favor in their license application.
The legislation is sponsored by Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, and Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.
“The genie’s out of the bottle,” Jones said. “They’re out there right now … but the problem is: What do we do between Dec. 15, perhaps as many as nine moths later, if you don’t have any dispensaries out there and you have someone suffering?”
He said “if you just shut them all down, it’s gonna go underground.”
Supporters like Jones, Knezek