It was a huge year for weed news in Los Angeles, the medical marijuana capital of America.
As the rest of the world softened its stance on cannabis' outlaw status, L.A. voters tightened the noose on legal dispensaries, outlawing more than 90 percent of our 1,000 legit pot shops.
The crackdown has been slow, however, and there's more talk of full legalization in California. Here are 2013's biggest weed stories. Sit back, light up and reflect:
10. A hardcore Republican says legalize it?! Yep. U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Orange County, a notorious anti-immigrant voice in Congress, proposed a law that would prohibit federal authorities from cracking down on small-time pot offenses in states where marijuana is legal, medically or otherwise.
9. Smoking daily is perfectly healthy. Say what? Our daily toker friends seem permanently attached to their couches while always wondering why they're depressed. But Researchers from Boston Medical Center and the Boston University School of Medicine found …
… no differences between daily marijuana users and those using no marijuana in their use of the emergency room, in hospitalizations, medical diagnoses or their health status.
8. Feds come to L.A. After a few years of federal crackdowns at Bay Area dispensaries, 2013 was the year the DEA finally, really focused on the city of L.A. Federal authorities told all pot shops in the LAPD's Rampart, Newton and Harbor divisions to shut down because, well, selling cannabis is not legal according to United States law.
7. Feds soften stance on weed. Strangely, a few months after that crackdown, a memo from Deputy U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole indicated that federal agents should back off on such enforcement. Local police “should remain the primary means of addressing marijuana-related activity,” he wrote. Um. Yeah.
Attorney General Eric Holder also announced that his office would change sentencing guidelines for “low-level” offenses so that “draconian mandatory minimum sentences” would not apply.
6. America and California favor legalizing it. That was good timing for the feds, because by fall a majority of Americans had, for the first time ever, expressed support for the full legalization of marijuana.
That news followed a Public Policy Institute of California survey that found 52 percent of Californians — a “record high” — also support full legalization.
5. Uruguay legalizes it! Despite the progressive strains found in California and Los Angeles politics, it was a little Latin American neighbor to our south that stole the headlines for 2013. Uruguay became the first nation on the planet to legalize it. Orale! (Or whatever they say down there).
4. Wax takes over. It was a huge year for marijuana extracts known as wax, honey oil or concentrate. Many dispensaries started carrying them. And many tokers started using the more-potent varieties by vaporizing them in portable pen-like e-cigarettes that helped mask their medicating even indoors. Fans of this kind of toking even started their own holiday, 710 (which is OIL upside down).
Too bad some of those who produce wax were blowing themselves up in the process.
3. Brand-name strains are meaningless. A marijuana scientist told us what we really already suspected, namely that those strains with names like OG Kush, Michael Phelps and Sour Diesel are often meaningless. In other words, there's nothing about the DNA of the weed that says Sour Diesel in one shop will be Sour Diesel in another. (Or even that Sour Diesel will be the same stuff at the same shop when you return a month later). Even the purported differences between indica and sativa are mostly bogus, he told us. Sorry.
That doesn't mean, however, that when a budtender tells you that she's tried a strain and it's good, that it's not.
2. L.A. starts to shut down its dispensaries. After y'all voted to shut down as many as 1,000 of L.A.'s pot shops, saving only the 100 or so that existed before a 2007 city moratorium went into effect, City Attorney Mike Feuer took action and has targeted, by our count, at least 60 allegedly illegal shops.
They have been told to close or face fines and even property seizure. Sixty's a small number, however, compared to the illicit shop openings and strange location shuffling that is going on, even under this new law. To be continued …
And our top marijuana story of 2013 was …
1. California tries to legalize it again. The demise of the Golden's State's Prop. 19 in 2010 hasn't stopped weed supporters from trying it again. If you want full legalization, you'll probably have another opportunity to vote on it in November of 2014. That's because the folks behind three different legalization initiatives started the process of aiming for that ballot in 2013.
Remember, though, that this will never work unless you get out and vote.