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Online Marijuana Processing Smoother and More Efficient

The city of Lansing, Mich., modernized the process of marijuana business licensing through a new online records management system. The changes have simplified the process for city staff and end users.

The city of Lansing, Mich., has upgraded its marijuana licensing system for marijuana operations facilities, creating a smoother, more efficient process for applicants and city staff.

While specific laws vary by state, 47 of 50 states currently have some sort of cannabis allowance. As medical and recreational marijuana licensing increases, states like California have adopted software to increase licensing capabilities.

The Lansing City Clerk’s Office opted to go online for this process in the summer of 2019, Chief Deputy City Clerk Brian Jackson told Government Technology in a written response.

Jackson said that this process formerly involved spending months working with binders full of applications, and weeks were being lost to the process of scanning and reviewing applications. He noted that the City Clerk’s Office had become familiar with a solution from Laserfiche and its capabilities after using it for contracts and resolutions. After testing some large file uploads, the process was moved completely online.

“The greatest benefits have been the huge reduction in time the city of Lansing staff spend processing documents and the more customer-friendly process for residents,” said Christopher Mumby, the CIO of the Information Technology Department, in a written response to Government Technology.

Mumby said the city has seen a lot of immediate efficiencies following the move to the new system in terms of processing applications. Prior to the switch, it could take up to three months to complete the review process for each application.

The city estimates a 10-hour reduction of staff time on each application, said Mumby, and a reduction in the approval process timeline from three months to three weeks.

Essentially, Laserfiche is an enterprise content management software for managing electronic records, according to the company’s senior director of strategic marketing, Linda Ding.

Notably, the city was also able to fight over 16 lawsuits because of the clear documentation available through the system, said Mumby.

“It’s very important to be able to quickly search and get access to relevant information so that you can prepare the court case files in a timely manner and the support substantiates your case effectively in court,” said Ding.

Ding explained that to ensure security of information in the system, the platform’s user access rates are very granular and are based on the role of the user within an agency. For example, if an administrator and staffer were looking at the same document, they may see different information based on their position. The system allows sensitive information to be redacted.

In some agencies, legacy records are kept indefinitely and can leave an agency vulnerable, but the other security component with this platform is ensuring the proper retention schedule for information.

The timeline of implementation factored in its benefits to city operations. Specifically, moving workflow processes to Laserfiche prior to the COVID-19 pandemic enabled the city to continue operations even when not all staff were working in the physical office.

“During the initial application window when COVID-19 hit, the City Clerk’s Office was still able to accept 26 applications through Laserfiche with no face-to-face contact,” Mumby said.

Government Technology is a sister site to Governing. Both are divisions of e.Republic.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.
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