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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Restoring the Revenue: President Obama’s directive on Medical Marijuana and the financial impact on the State of Michigan.

By The Friends of George Cushingberry Jr.
October 24, 2009

The increasing number of patients and caregivers is creating the need for increased investment in technology and personnel management at the Departments of Community Health and Information Technology.

On Monday, October 19, 2009 President Obama issued a directive to all federal law enforcement agencies (DEA, FBI, US Customs, et al) to stop arresting Medical Marijuana patients in all States who have voter approved Medical Marijuana laws. The Drug Enforcement Agency will no longer harass or prosecute caregivers as long as they are complying with State of Michigan law and the 13 other states that have them on their books.

Local police agencies will have the ability to verify that you are a valid Michigan patient by checking the card number on their computer. If you do not have a card in your possession, law enforcement will be able to use your driver’s license to validate the fact that you are a legal medical marijuana patient. This directive includes all of the international border crossings in the cities of Detroit, Port Huron, and Sault Ste Marie.

Because of the leadership of President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder will now lead his band of barristers to pursue other causes such as, violent crime in our schools, and executive fraud on Wall Street. This is an upheaval shift in federal policy from the Bush administration, whose policy was to promote violence and kill people like Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm at Rainbow Farms in Vandalia Michigan in September of 2001.

On this new breath of fresh leadership from President Obama, T.F.O.C. blogger Richard Clement had a follow up interview with Ms. Melanie Brimm Director of the Department of Community Health Bureau of Health Professionals.

In this interview we discussed the issues of staff reorganization of duties including hiring of additional staff. We also discussed how Technology will improve the lag time for a person applying for a card until they actually receive it in their hands. Currently the department is 60 days behind the 5 day processing requirement for Patient/Caregiver cards as required by law in 2008. To help bring the program into compliance, T.F.O.C. bloggers posed the following questions and concerns to Ms. Brimm:

Richard: What is the Department doing to improve the 60 day time delay in processing cards?

Melanie: To address the issue we will need up to 3 additional data entry employees and the duties of check cashing handled by the Department of the Treasury. This will free up an employee to process more applications via data entry. Treasury employees are required to be confidential with information and money by rule of law. Disclosing confidential information by Treasury employees will result in a hefty fine and at least 1 to 5 years in prison.

Richard: Some people are asking about the picture on the card. How will that be resolved?

Melanie: Regarding the pictures on the card the department will get the picture from the Secretary of State via a relational database link to the picture file located on their server.

Richard: Since the doctors are able to renew their licenses on line, why not medical marijuana patients?

Melanie: Due to the confidentiality of the program we did not want to put it online. But how confidential is confidential? Doctors register and renew their licenses online so why not Medical Marijuana patients? I have asked the Department of Information Technology to make this change a reality by April 4th, 2010 or sooner.

Richard: How about taking online payments from patients and caregivers?

Melanie: The State takes other payment forms online for other departments and, it will only be a matter of days before the Marijuana Program will have that feature available. The program has been a huge success generating revenue to cover the overhead for managing the Marijuana program. The voters had it right and in the process have created jobs and employment opportunity for Michigan Citizens.

Richard: The act specifically mentions smoking marijuana in a public place is prohibited. However Marijuana can be ingested by liquid or solid form like cookies or brownies and still achieve the same feeling. If someone ate a cookie full of medicine in a public place, would that be in compliance with the act?

Melanie: Yes. The biggest complaint from people who do not use cannabis is the odor from the cigarette.

Richard: Thank you for your time and service to the people of the State of Michigan.

Melanie: Thank you for calling.

Our friend George was impressed with the information and pleased with the dedicated service of Ms. Brimm. He asked me to assemble an ad-hoc Medical Marijuana Information Technology advisory board composed of computer professionals, attorneys, patients and caregivers to develop recommendations so that funds and resources could be allocated to handle the demand. After further consultation with various legal professionals and other technology based advocates, we developed a proactive concept of cloud computing. (No pun intended)

Medical Marijuana Information Systems (MMIS) is a concept that will allow patients and caregivers to update and manage their information. Participants will be able to renew their applications, provide caregivers the ability to manage their patients and, update other information as needed.

Users of the system will be able to send a picture that they like to be on their card through a vanity picture ID verification system. The picture must be similar to a passport photo with a full head and shoulder view. Extra $20 fee applies for this service.

In addition to allowing customers to register online, the application forms will be changed so that it can be processed by document scanning hardware and software when mailed in.

Scanners will be located in State of Michigan facilities such as Secretary of State Offices, County Health Departments and Family Independence Agency facilities. Combined with the rescheduling of Marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug, we believe that the State of Michigan has existing technology and personnel to make this a reality within 3-6 months. Any thing that takes longer than 6 months is a poor excuse for work with a lack of talent combined.

The program has over 7000 applicants as of October 24, 2009 with %50 of them paying the full $100.00 registration fee. The remaining %50 is paying the $25.00 fee for being on SSI. Using simple math we calculate that the program has made over $437,500 in the period between April 4th, 2009 and September 30, 2009. If the current growth rate continues there will be over 14,000 applications in a one year period generating at least $875,000 in profit with the existing system. By placing the process online all of these numbers would increase by %15 to %30 allowing Michigan residents to register from all over the world.

An appropriation of $60,000 for equipment and time from a State of Michigan employee to do the work would generate a return that would be equal to two times the amount appropriated for the initial project.

Our friend George reviewed the findings and said that he will take it under much consideration. The people have asked for change and it is my job to bring it to them. I want to thank you Richard for your research and the work of the MMIS Committee.

And if you would like to make suggestions or share ideas to improve the Medical Marijuana Program including using hemp products to restore the revenue, please contact Rep. George Cushingberry Jr.

We urge you to email your elected officials in US House of Representatives and Senate. (Stabenow(D-MI)&Levin(D-MI))

Contact one of the members of the Commerce and Energy Committee Rep. Mike Rogers(R-08) to ask him to support the President on stimulating the economy of Michigan with hemp products.

Send an email to your State of Michigan House of Representative and State Senator too. And don’t forget to contact Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm because,

The President has spoken,
to let the people start toking.
And he was not joking...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Restoring the Revenue: A Status Report on the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program.

The Friends of George Cushingberry Jr.
October 14, 2009

As Michigan citizens watch the budget drama from Lansing between the legislators and the Governor, there is one glimmer of success from the State of Michigan. The credit for this progress goes to the voters of the State of Michigan approving the Medical Marijuana law by a large %63 of the vote. The Medical Marijuana program is quickly becoming a victim of its own success. The entire process as approved by the voters was designed for a 20 day maximum turnaround procedure if there were no issues regarding the application.

If there was a problem, the applicant was allowed a 15 day time period to correct the error(s). With only 5 Full Time Employee (F.T.E.) positions allotted to the program, it has generated close to $450,000 in a six month period ending September 30, 2009. The law currently calls for applications to be approved in a 15 day time period with a valid card being issued 5 days after approval.

At the request of our friend George, T.F.O.C. blogger Richard Clement was in attendance at the 1st Michigan Medical Marijuana Symposium held at the Wayne State University Law School on October 3, 2009. The event was organized by retired Detroit Police Officer Daniel Solano of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P.) and founder of Police Officers for Drug Law Reform. The people of the State of Michigan were represented well by Ms. Melanie Brimm Director of the State Health Professionals bureau at the Department of Community Health. She is responsible for licensing and regulation of all medical professionals in the State of Michigan and she gave a wonderful speech on guidelines, regulation and progress of the program.

Ms. Brimm gave detailed statistics on the progress of the program and where it stands as of Sept 30, 2009. The bureau is receiving an average of 58 applications per day and had 6998 applications. Of that number 6166 are card carrying participants and 4398 of those are patients. Regarding fees collected %50 of the participants paid the $100.00 regular fee and %50 paid the reduced $25.00 fee for persons who are on SSI. Given these numbers, the program will make well over 1 million dollars in a 12 month period. The leading conditions for Marijuana recommendation as of September 30, 2009 are nausea, pain, and muscle spasms. There is a projected increase in certifying medical professionals of %10 per month over the next 6-18 months.

She also discussed the status of the 15 member board of medical professionals that the law required to be assembled. This board is responsible for reviewing additional qualifying medical conditions that are not currently listed. To be added the new condition must show where Marijuana can make a positive difference in relief of the ailment. Conditions such as depression, job stress, terminal conditions are some of the ones being reviewed by this panel.

To acquire approval, a person must provide actual research with studies and evidence to support their petition to add a qualifying medical condition. Witness with credentials such as medical professionals, research documents, and actual patients serve as excellent sources of evidence. This review panel has to follow the rules of Michigan Administrative Procedure and the board’s decision can be appealed to the Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing Michigan. Meeting dates will be published and the public will be notified by law.

Physician participation is voluntary and patients can go to any medical professional willing to take your case with regards to a recommendation. Some of the challenges and opportunities of the new law are the establishment of “caregiver networks”, establishing a legal level of Marijuana in a person’s system to declare a person legally high and, the creation of a list of drug interaction guidelines that medical professionals can follow.

On the legal front, the magic word is affirmative defense. I asked attorney Cushingberry to tell me what does that mean? He told me that affirmative defense is providing law enforcement a valid reason for possessing up to 2.5 ounces of Marijuana so that you will be in compliance with State of Michigan Law. If you get arrested your attorney will provide the judge with an affirmative defense, your case will be dismissed, and you will be entitled to the return of your property (medicine). That’s how the law works Richard. Attorney Matt Abel, general counsel for MI-NORML confirmed what attorney Cushingberry had detailed to me and said that I had consulted an excellent legal mind in Mr. Cushingberry.

The last concern that Ms. Brimm talked about was the problems caused by the Department of Information Technology. Currently the data resides on a “restricted server” where only 5 people in the State of Michigan have access to it. Ms. Brimm assured some of the members in the audience regarding the confidentiality of their information.

However some members of the audience posed detailed questions to Ms. Brimm that she was not able to answer at the moment.

1. What is the status of online verification of a valid Med. Marijuana Card by Law Enforcement? (US Customs, State Police, County Sherriff, Detroit Police, etc.)
2. Will the Department convert the existing process to an online registration and renewal procedure?
3. Will the Department provide a real time summary count of applications received, processed, dollars received, conditions applied for, conditions approved with all of this information displayed on the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program website? An average Information Technology professional would complete this job within 8 hours of it being assigned.

A copy of these questions will be sent to Melanie for answers and, if you have any questions regarding the program, please e-mail Melaine Brimm or call her at (517) 373-8165. Ms. Brim is a State of Michigan Government employee who is truly trying to help the people.

Our friend George is a big supporter of open government and if you have time feel free to contact him at his office in Lansing. He would love to hear from you! This is a request to his constituents in Detroit and other Michigan residents who have a concern for open and honest government to contact him when you get some time.

Office Address
S0687 House Office Building

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514

Phone: (517) 373-2276
Fax: (517) 373-7186
Toll-Free: (888) 347-8008

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What it takes to Make A Great City: Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Debroah Thomas Giving Back to the Community

by The Friends of George Cushingberry Jr.
Tuesday October 13, 2009

ANNOUNCING "A Youth Talent Musical Competition" in Detroit MI Friday October 30, 2009.

Listen to the Youth of the City of Detroit in a free musical contest sponsored by the Detroit Police Department and other community groups. This project is designed to improve the relationship between Detroit's youth and the law enforcement community.

This is the link to the new video/press release then click on "enter". to start the video Sponsored by "CHANGE DETROIT FOR GOOD"

The video will be re-broadcast from the Chambers of Circuit Court Judge Deborah A. Thomas (Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan)

State Rep. George Cushingberry Jr. (D-08 – Detroit)

Monday, October 12, 2009

What it takes to make a Great City: Wrapping up to your responsibilities to your community and self.

The Friends of George Cushingberry Jr.
October 12, 2009

There was an old saying around the City of Detroit where the citizens took an oath of responsibility to the community regarding giving back. They always told us younger ones that if you borrow something from a loved one, you want to return it in the same manner that you received it. This was ingrained in us from the time that we were born and when we raised children ourselves. To move the City in a positive direction, this motto must be sustained by the generations before and after us. The baby boomers are rapidly reaching retirement age, and the generation X and Y people will give way to the new millennium babies born in the 90s. Some of the children of 2000 will be changing the diapers of the baby boomers very soon!

Our Friend George and a few old school friends Roscoe,Malik,Oscar, and Norman, were discussing the issue of what it takes to make and maintain a great city. Retaining and attracting younger and working residents that will sustain neighborhoods to provide decent city services to its residents. We also discussed business ethics and investment into businesses that operate in Michigan. And instead of talking about it we wrote down some of the guidelines while we watched a replay of a meeting by the State House of Representatives appropriations hearing on developing revenue for funding educational programs and reading proposed house bills on generating revenue through agriculture programs in urban areas of Michigan.

This is the list that we developed to ponder for future action.

1.Pay your rent and maintain a log of your assets and debts. In order to end the disorder in your finances, record keeping and do a 6 month to 1 year budget. This means multiplying your food, gas, utilities,rent or mortgage by 12 and making that a fixed cost in your budget. Everyone needs a place to sleep with a shower and reasonable accommodations. Do the same for your medical expenses and credit card debt. Then you project your income over 6 to 12 months and see how you can do your own line item vetoes of expenses.

When you have a clear picture of your financial condition, then you can make plans accordingly. If you decide to go to school, then you should pay close attention to your student loans and the length of the loan. You will be responsible for paying it back so take the time to project that over a 4 year period. To calculate the full value of a school loan you must determine why you are taking it, what you are going to do with the training and degree, then make provisions to pay that back also.

A good program to use is Microsoft Excel and Quick Books that will allow you to use your downloaded statements from your financial institution and incorporate them into a personal financial plan.

2.If you own a business “Keep your Word”! All business from Corporations to small business need to “quit lying and be honest with your customers”. Some of the best advertisement comes from word of mouth. Meaning that after you advertise your services and perform the job to the satisfaction of the customers, the word of your efforts will get around to other people through the good words of others.

3.Quit Making children and walking away from them! Wrap it up! An important step in maintaining a great city is being responsible for the development of its youth. One of them is being responsible for your children and their conduct. To improve the economic and civil stability in a neighborhood, men and women must stop the practice of making children and walking away from them through neglect, disrespect, and blatant abandonment. For about 5 minutes of pleasure and an entire community is affected by the leftovers of “the feeling”. As our friend George says, “The Feel is Ignorance and we have to wrap it up because the feeling is the same”.

When these children are unleashed upon the public through the various school systems, they bring additional costs through increased suspension and detention time. Often times these children come to school disrespecting staff and with no moral and leadership from the parent, they often wind up in trouble or taking classes that they can pass easily with the smallest amount of work. This has to change because the world is not made on easy street and the handouts are few and over with.

4.Equal Treatment starts with respect to yourself and your community. Parents especially the males should get involved with the school system at all levels. If some parents have a skill such as carpentry, culinary arts, agriculture, or other legal and personal skill, they should consider supporting vocational and college prep programs to sustain the growth of the City and the community. There was an old football coach who said to us during practice on a hot August day that “If you quit then you ain't worth a s _ _t.”!

President Obama alluded to the same theory when he paraphrased this statement. We can no longer afford to sit back and consume products without creating a marketable product to trade in return to the world. And to do this, youth and adults need to devote a few hours to learning something new in the mode of giving something back to the community and enhancing your own self worth.

We hope that some of these guidelines can be adopted by our children so that by the end of this next century, the world will be a better place that when we were here. If you would like to discuss this with our friend George, feel free to contact him at the office or schedule a town hall meeting with him so that we can all communicate to formulate a vision for the future.

Office Address
S0687 House Office Building

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514

Phone: (517) 373-2276
Fax: (517) 373-7186
Toll-Free: (888) 347-8008

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