The Senate on Friday voted to approve bipartisan legislation that would ensure quality control for medical marijuana, level the business playing field, and keep the drug out of the hands of Washington’s children and teens.

The Cannabis Patient Protection Act, sponsored by Senators Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, puts a priority on patient safety while ensuring a fair, equitable market for producers and retailers in the state.

“Let’s not forget what’s at stake here for public safety,” said Rivers. “Right now in Washington we have thousands of dispensaries operating with no oversight. This bill is a reasonable approach to ensure patients are protected and have access to the best and safest cannabis products available.”

The legislation would allow the creation of stand-alone medical marijuana stores that would be regulated much like recreational stores currently are. Safety regulations would ensure patients have access to medical-grade marijuana.

“We have dispensary operators who don’t card, don’t pay taxes, and sell mislabeled and tainted product,” said Hatfield. “At the same time, we are asking our recreational retailers and producers to follow hundreds of state regulations. There is literally no other medicine in the world that doesn’t have a basic level of regulation and oversight.”

Other key elements of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act would include options for medical specialty clinics and training for medical marijuana consultants.

The bill now moves to the state House for consideration.