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Wrapping it up

Robert Downes - December 27th, 2010
Wrapping It Up
Person of the Year:
For Michigan it was Ms. Mary Jane Medical Marijuana and her thousands of fans.
I’ve been amazed at the number of people who’ve gotten their “card”
since medical marijuana was legalized. Never knew there were so many
sick people out there.
“I went down to the clinic and paid them $150 with an extra $100 to
the state and I was good to go. It was easy,” one new card-holder
told me recently. Now he can buy an ounce of weed for $300 or so to
ease a nervous condition.
The danger for some card-holders is trying to avoid getting buzzed
24-7 (seen it). Perhaps there will be unforeseen medical problems down
the road for folks who just can’t get enough of Mary Jane in their
lives (ie. depression, emphysema, man-boobs). One friend, who has MS,
says he’s been afraid to smoke pot because the THC content is so high
that he gets paranoid after a couple of puffs.
Funny thing about medical marijuana is that the Cheech & Chong factor
has gone up in smoke now that it’s almost universally referred to as
“medicine.” You hear of miracle cures ascribed to getting high, kind
of like bleeding was considered a cure-all for 1,000 years or so
(ironically, bleeding was a popular cure partly because it made people
feel light-headed and dreamy). And in an odd way, smoking marijuana
has become a middle-aged or old folks thing.
No complaints here, though. It’s great that people suffering from
glaucoma, cancer treatment, MS and other disorders are finding relief.
And for a change, homegrown jobs are being created in Michigan,
literally. And we certainly appreciate the flood of ads for medical
marijuana services we’ve received at the Express, along with the
opportunity to write about the thorny law enforcement issues involved.
But it sure is funny how the social landscape has changed over the
past year with marijuana becoming respectable. Who would ever have
dreamed, for instance, that the TC City Commission would approve an
ordinance allowing people to grow up to 72 plants in their own homes?
Must have been smoking some of that premo high-end bud when they came
up with that one.
Makes you wonder, what’s next? As soon as the pharmaceutical companies
pile on and start selling pot as an aphrodisiac for people with “ED”
and low libido, watch out -- Mary Jane will really start getting a

Boo-boo of the Year
No, it wasn’t the new Yogi Bear movie, it was the Traverse City
Light & Power plan to build a $30 million biomass plant.
The 10 megawatt plant would have burned 100,000 tons of wood per year,
consuming 77,000 acres year in and year out. Oh, but no clear-cuts
would be involved, unless perhaps it was “unmarketable” trees.
On the flip side, some folks are now riled up about a plan to install
112 wind turbines in Benzie and Manistee counties which will stand 490
feet tall; and a similar plan to install hundreds of windmills in Lake
Michigan off Ludington. It shows that there are no easy answers to our
energy problems.
Mystery of the Year
The disappearance of Jacob Cabinaw, who was last seen walking through
downtown Traverse City nine months ago.
Jake, 31, was reportedly spotted in a Sweetwater, Texas surveillance
video soon thereafter -- alone and unharmed -- but then the trail went
cold. He presently has 7,309 Facebook friends looking for him. Look
for an article in an upcoming Express on how the search is going.
Another mystery is the disappearance of State Police tracking dog
Bane, who went missing in the Rogers City area while searching for a
lost Alzheimer’s victim. The German Shepherd took off after a deer and
hasn’t been seen since. He has 4,998 people rooting for him on
Facebook. Unfortunately, Bane disappeared during hunting season and
it’s no secret that some hunters shoot dogs for the high crime and
misdemeanor of chasing deer.

Craziest Idea of the Year:
Let’s see, if you were told over and over, year after year, that
Social Security was going to go bust in your lifetime, would it make
sense to decrease its funding?
That’s what Congress did last week when it reduced the Social Security
tax withholding rate from 6.2% to 4.2% of wages paid.
According to a news release from the Internal Revenue Service: “This
reduced Social Security withholding will have no effect on the
employee’s future Social Security benefits.”
Oh really?
Theoretically, the idea is to give employees a 2% payroll tax cut,
which they’ll use to spark up the economy, creating more jobs. This
will result in extra funding for Social Security when the new jobs
kick in.
That’s how it’s supposed to work, but what if those jobs don’t
materialize? Would you cut back on contributions to your own 401k with
the idea that the money you need for retirement will magically appear
when you need it most?
The 2% payroll tax cut seems more like a zombie head-shot to kill off
Social Security down the road than taking responsibility to protect
our retirements.

Best Hope for Michigan:
Voters went to the polls in November in the hope that Rick Snyder will
save our sorry souls with his business acumen. The governor-elect has
made a good start on his pledge of bipartisanship by enlisting
Democrats Andy Dillon (former house speaker) and Dick Posthumus
(former lt. governor) to join his team as state treasurer and senior
adviser, respectively. Good luck, Governor.
Add to that the revival of GM, Chrysler and Ford, along with a new
high-tech battery plant in Detroit and our state seems to be slowly
Last week came the news that Michigan was the only state to lose
population during the recent census -- 54,804 of us moved on in search
of jobs elsewhere. Our population fell by 0.6%, losing us a seat in
Yet in a strange way, that too is good news because it will mean more
jobs for those of us who stuck around... if and when those jobs

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