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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


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