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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

State officials to re-appear before House Oversight Committee to answer questions regarding the Medical Marijuana Program on 4/15/2010

The Friends of Cushingberry
March 30, 2010



On April 15, 2010, administrators from the Departments of State Police, Information Technology, and Community Health will be testifying before an Intergovernmental and Oversight committee of the House of Representatives at the State Capitol in Lansing MI. They will be compelled to answer questions, complaints, and concerns regarding participation in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program. One of the major issues is that patients are being arrested by City, County, and State police officers and their medicine confiscated. Law enforcement officials are confused on the issue of a person’s status in the program based on a Xerox copy of an application. This document can be easily forged and is very impractical because of its size.


What happens next is beyond belief and an embarrassment to the citizens of the State. When a person is arrested, the arresting agency has to call between the hours of 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday. A good example of this is if you arrested at 5:01PM on a Friday, you have to wait until Monday morning until you are “verified” with a phone call as a valid participant in the program. Your weekend is all screwed up and any plans that you had that week are forever changed.


The law specifically states that after 20 days a person’s application is deemed valid if there are no anomalies and paperwork is properly filed. The wait up to 120 days for a card is basically un-acceptable and must be dealt with immediately. Currently some local law enforcement agencies have the ability retrieve information in their squad cars about the driver such as: warrants, status in the 7411 diversion program, and the lien holder of the car.


David Newman legislative liaison of the Department of Information Technology will answer to the committee regarding improving this current debacle in the bureaucracy. According to Mr. Newman no request for help was ever received from the Department of Community Health. He also admitted that the Department of Community Health has only one printer for the cards. When he was asked why is that printer not running 24/7 there was no answer.


The issue of privatization of the process will be addressed at this hearing. The State of Michigan’s Information Technology Department is a hodge-podge collection of contractors and consultants that the taxpayers support. These contracts are necessary because the agency’s employees do not have the time, money or ability to do the job.

Scofes Consulting Inc. has a program that can be quickly implemented to relieve the backlog in processing. The owner Stephen G. Scofes has stated that this program is already being used in California and, can be implemented in Michigan. The ultimate goal is to process the cards as fast as or faster than the Secretary of State, the gold standard in information processing for a government agency. Given the urgency of the situation it appears that Scofes has the answer to the problem. His company may qualify for a no-bid contract if they can perform the following tasks in a timely manner.


The bid will be based on the following parameters:
1. Registration of patients and caregivers via a secure web page to MDCH.
2. The processing of cards within the 20 day period including renewals.


The Department of Information Technology and Scofes will be asked to demonstrate how this proposed system will be implemented and maintained. If Mr. Scofes can demonstrate that his company can implement the system by April 20, 2010 @ 4:20AM, he will have earned the honor of being awarded a contract to perform that service for 2 years from the date of acceptance. If the demonstration shows that these participants can’t do the job, the process will be put out to a bid for the general public. When this bid is let out, there will be a required demonstration before a panel of committee members, department officials, and private citizens who have a vested interest in the process.


MDCH officials will answer to the committee regarding the status of the review board(PA 368 of the Public Health Code of 1978). According to the law there is a requirement for a 15 member board to review requests for additional qualifying conditions. As of March 30, 2010 there have been NO members selected and NO meetings scheduled.




Some of the questions the committee will ask are:
1.What is the delay in appointing this board(SOAHR Adm Rule 333.131)
2.What is the department doing to address the appointment of members to this board?
3.The benefit of allowing a private company to manage the Medical Marijuana Information System?
4.How can the MMJ program assist in sharing information with local law enforcement regarding a patient’s status in the program?
5.What is the cost savings to the taxpayers by storing additional information on the microchip of the enhanced driver’s license from the Secretary of State? Printing ONE card instead of two.


These questions and others from the committee and the public will be asked to these agencies. If you have additional questions that you want asked by the committee please leave it as a comment to this article. These questions will be compiled by Rep. Cushingberrys staff for review by the committee. If there are duplicate questions, they will be combined to address the main idea being expressed by the commenter.


Rep. Cushingberry appreciates the input from the following organizations: Americans for Safe Access(ASA), Michigan Medical Marijuana Educational and Defense Organization(3MED), Michigan Medical Marijuana Association(3MA), Michigan Chapter of the National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (MI-NORML). Also appreciated is the Michigan Departments of Community Health, and Information Technology to improve the system for Michigan citizens. The ending result will be a system that will address the needs and wants of its customers. Government can work for the benefit of the people when the citizens provide positive and rational input to be reviewed, analyze, and implemented to the satisfaction of all sides of the issue.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rep. Cushingberry sponsors House Bill 5976 to rescue the City of Detroit's pension system.

The Friends of George Cushingberry Jr.
March 27, 2010





House Bill 5976 is known as the distressed municipal pension system act. This legislation will protect employee’s pensions by allowing pension managers to apply to the State of Michigan for assistance if the transaction goes into a negative status. When this situation comes into effect, a financial management team from State of Michigan would monitor the loan until paid off. This bill would be the Donald Trump moment for the current pension board whose performance in office is a total disgrace to all principles of Managerial Accounting methods and procedures. The current members would be replaced and a new management team would take over.

The City of Detroit Employees pension system is currently being supported by credit default swaps, a financing shell game that was implemented during the Kilpatrick administration. Credit default swaps are transactions that are similar to a bet at Motor City Casino or your favorite team. If your $100.00 investment makes %10 you gain $10.00 dollars for a total of $110.00 dollars. If the investment loses %10 you lost $10.00 and now have $90.00. You get the drift now and, given the current status of the financial industry, the pension fund for the city is exposed to greater financial harm.

The damage that credit default swaps create is evident when you walk down any street in the City of Detroit these days. In last ten years empty buildings and homes are the new face of the neighborhood. The rapid urban decay of the city is due to the abuse and criminal behavior of financial managers and government co-operation at the highest level of previous administrations at Federal and local levels.


According to information provided by the Detroit Free Press under the Freedom of Information Act, the current pension board lacked the oversight and investigation from neutral parties such as the Auditor General and other government agencies. There is currently a severe lack of transparency in the system at the moment.

Does the city have an additional $350,000 to support the current system from the property tax base to eliminate this credit default swap status?


Like the great stateswoman Wanda Sykes would say if she was sitting in Baker’s Keyboard Lounge one night “I want a receipt”. This bill if it became law would allow a citizen to generate that receipt by accessing the city website. That receipt would be generated in real time and displayed on your blackberry, cell phone and the screens of local radio station talk show hosts. Radio personalities like Mildred Gaddis (WCHB 1200 AM) and Frankie Darcell (WMXD 92.3 FM) would have access to the same information in real time.


As for the soon to be former employees of the board, when one door of opportunity closes, another one will open up or, will close behind them for a few years. They may possibly join the line of incarcerated city officials like Alonzo Bates, and Kwame Kilpatrick. However all hope is not lost because like Michael Vick and Martha Stewart, they will prosper after they serve their time.

Mayor Bing and his financial advisors feel that this legislation would serve as a life vest for the system protecting current and retired City employees from further financial damage and bureaucratic mismanagement. Deputy Mayor Saul Green has reviewed the current situation from a legal perspective. The “City has few choices and this is the best option to take for the financial safety and integrity of the fund”. If Mr. Green was in his old job as a federal prosecutor, some of these people would be in jail already. The bill is in line with the Obama administration’s policy to put more transparency in government by promoting the use of technology in all accounting matters.

If you would like to give us comment on this legislation feel free to use our blog. These comments are compiled and reviewed by Rep. Cushingberry’s staff.

Contact Information:
State Rep. George Cushingberry Jr.


Email: gcushingberry@house.mi.gov

Monday, March 22, 2010

House Committee issues a notice to appear to the leadership of the Michigan Department of Community Health and Information Technology.

The Friends of George Cushingberry Jr.
March 22, 2010


The departments of Information Technology and Community Health were issued notices to appear before the House Intergovernmental and Oversight committee by March 25, 2010 to address the concerns of the citizens regarding the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program.

TFOC Blogger Richard Clement appeared with members of Americans for Safe Access, Michigan Medical Marijuana Educational and Defense Organization (3MED) , Michigan Medical Marijuana Association (3MA), and Michigan Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (MI-NORML) to testify before the House Appropriations Intergovernmental and Oversight committee regarding the Michigan Medical Marijuana program on March 18, 2010. Representatives from the Medical Marijuana community testified on the behalf of the newly enacted law.

One of most glaring concerns is that the law enforcement community is currently arresting legal patients with their paperwork. A police officer views the paperwork as a forged document because of the verification process is all by hand. As of March 18, 2010 the program has a 120 day backlog in the processing of a person’s application. For example, if you got arrested on Friday after 5:00pm, you would have to wait in jail until Monday morning until your paperwork got verified by the Department.

After the meeting, there were comments from the public regarding penalizing the department by fining them $1.00 a day per application that has not been processed within the 20 day time limit. This is an abomination in the face of the 21st century given the technology equipment that is currently available. We cannot let this happen because the state is already broke.


In a follow-up session with other cannabis colleagues, we wanted to ask this question:

Can the State of Michigan provide the means for authorized doctors to prescribe and recommend Medical Marijuana applications via a secure webpage by April 20th, 2010 @ 4:20AM?

Officials from the Department of Community Health and Information Technology will be on hand to answer this and other questions from the public before the House Appropriations Intergovernmental and Oversight Committee next meeting.

I received a call from one of Rep. Cushingberry’s staff members by the name of Cleo Wiley. She asked me the following questions:

Ms. Wiley: Richard, how is this going to work?

Richard: Currently doctors and pharmacies are allowed to fill prescriptions by phone, fax, email, and online. At the State of Michigan, doctor’s information is currently kept at the Department of Labor and Economic Growth along with drivers’ license information. The IRS has figured out the situation by allowing for the e-filing of returns and that has worked reasonably well.

By allowing doctors to enter the information at the point of action (in the office) the time spent on verifying applications would be reduced and, the 120 day backlog would be eliminated. Doctors already have a unique identification number and this would just be a matter of cross referencing information with various departments to verify an application. Currently the employees of MDCH are calling doctors by phone to verify their information. This is very impractical and inefficient given the number of applications received per day. As of March 2010, it has exceeded 80 per day.

Ms. Wiley: Why April 20, 2010 at 4:20AM?

Richard: This day is recognized as International Marijuana Appreciation Day and we have the talent in Michigan to get the job done by this date. The State of Michigan spends a massive amount of money on Information Technology products and with a $50,000 investment in resources; the returned revenue to support the program would be tripled. We would start with 20 authorized doctors’ statewide and look to expand fairly quickly to any medical professional authorized to practice in Michigan by May 1st.

The law was well written by some very intelligent lawyers and with added assistance from technology professionals, the program will be in compliance with the law.

Ms. Wiley: Thank you Mr. Clement for coming to the hearing.


Rep. Cushingberry is still taking questions via this blog from the public and encourages you to contact him with more suggestions to improve the program. Your comments will be compiled and reviewed by the committee for action. Your input is highly regarded by his staff and we encourage you to contact YOUR personal State legislator for your address.


Contact Information:
State Rep. George Cushingberry Jr.
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

Email: gcushingberry@house.mi.gov

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rep. Cushingberry will be taking comments regading the status of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program 3/18/2010

Press Release from the Friends of Cushingberry.
March 17, 2010


Representative Cushingberry will be taking comments and suggestions to improve the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program at a hearing of the Appropriations: Investigations, Intergovernmental Affairs and Oversight Committee on March 18th at 10AM in room 352, House Appropriations on the 3rd floor of the Capitol Building.

(Click Here for Committee Page Dates and Times)

Written comment is preferred and, if you would like to submit your concerns please contact Rep. Cushingberry and your own State Representative at www.michigan.gov

If you would like to leave a comment on this page, please do so as the information will be compiled and noted for the record. The long time delay in processing applications is un-acceptable and will be improved for the good of the people. The chairman will want to know the status of the 15 member board that is responsible for reviewing additional medical conditions. Who are the members and, when is the first meeting date are questions that will be answered and addressed by MDCH/MMP represenatives.

Driving Directions to State Capitol in Lansing MI

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