Smokin' hot, right off the digital presses, here are our Top 5 marijuana stories of 2011.
You've got an L.A. City Council that's probably going to consider putting all of our pot shops out of business, a federal government that's cracking down on medical marijuana in California, and a new renaissance in teen appreciation for the age-old custom of monster bong hits.
We have it all. So light 'em if you got 'em, cause here we go:
Just as 16 states have gone medical-marijuana-legal, news came this fall that teen pot use is at a 30-year-high, outdone only by the late-'70s Spicoli years mirrored in the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The latest Monitoring the Future survey found that more than one-third of high-school seniors have toked up in the last year. We're just waiting for bell-bottoms to replace skinny jeans.
You got excited when the White House's program to have President Obama address issues brought to him via an online popularity vote netted mass support for the “Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol” petition. He would have to address it, as promised. And, frankly, it was a perfectly reasonable idear. Then you took a toke. Wow, man, this is really cool. And another: This could really happen! Obama's no fool, however, and he's not about to hand the Republicans an easy issue on the eve on an election year. He blew you off, like a douche who throws down a perfectly good joint and steps on it after one hit. The White House declared that weed “is not a benign drug.” Yeah right. Ask Zach Galifianakis.
A lot of marijuana advocates gave us the told-ya-so when this study came out, but it turns out we had the last laugh. RAND, the well-regarded Santa Monica think tank, essentially concluded that not only do dispensaries not attract crime, but that they might actually help lower it. We were the first publication to question the data. It just didn't make sense. RAND said it looked at L.A. dispensaries that had closed and found crime actually went up afterward. First question: What dispensaries closed? We couldn't find many, and even the city wasn't sure. Second one: What stats show crime went up? The LAPD has reported consistent decreases. Tail between its legs, RAND pulled the study.
After the Obama administration famously told his U.S. Department of Justice to back off when it comes to prosecuting run-of-the-mill pot cases in states where medical marijuana is legal, either he was defied or he secretly back-peddled during the build up to next year's presidential election. Because the DOJ did not back off. One thing's for sure: After four U.S. Attorneys declared a federal war on California pot shops and medical grow operations in fall, the pro-pot contingent was furious.
This is the one BIG pot story of 2011 that could actually cramp L.A.'s style. While we've enjoyed being the pot-shop capital of the nation (there are more than 500 such stores in Los Angeles), the City Council has tried repeatedly and fruitlessly to get dispensaries to succumb to its rules, and many are essentially outlaws. It sounds to us like former pot-shop supporter and city Councilman Jose Huizar is throwing in the towel, because he has proposed to do away with ALL of them. Seriously. Bad news for the stoner nation. Stay tuned.