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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...

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