Loko No Mo'
The Four Loko phenomenon accelerated so quickly that some details got lost along the way. Maybe it's because we were guzzling several cans a day, but, by the time the Food and Drug Administration outlawed crack juice in November, it seems like no one knew exactly who spoiled all the fun. As it turns out, it was attorneys general from more than two dozen states (not including Massachusetts) who first decided that Americans are not responsible enough to drink a potion laced with three times more alcohol than beer, and as much caffeine as a 12-ounce coffee. In 2008, AGs successfully bullied MillerCoors into mellowing its comparable Sparks product, and soon after set their sights on Phusion Projects, the Chicago-based brewers of Four Loko.
In 2010, shit got realer. As powerful prosecutors raised concerns, meatheads and co-eds helped them out by imbibing suicidal quantities of El Loko, causing local authorities to take notice. This past fall, nearly two dozen Ramapo College students in New Jersey were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after binging on Four Loko; in Washington, state lawmakers voted to ban "blackout in a can" on November 10, less than a month after a similar incident there. The FDA ordered Phusion and other companies to change their formulas a week later, while Massachusetts followed up soon after with its own ban. As for the media — reporters are still punch-drunk over the stuff, and have taken to reporting on the black market that's emerged in the wake of speed-brew prohibition.
Four Loko fans were not the only victims of the Great Bodega Buzz Kill of 2010. Early this year, the US Marine Corps placed an emergency ban on synthetic marijuana, which is popularly marketed under the names Spice and K2. Several states followed suit after an Iowa teen allegedly committed suicide while bugging out on fake weed, and on November 24 the US Drug Enforcement Administration quashed potpourri puffing altogether. There's a chance that the Spice ban could be lifted in 2011, when the current emergency measure expires. But that's unlikely, considering that it's already blackballed in a dozen other industrialized nations.
For people who smoke real weed, 2010 was bittersweet as an old bong packed with Blueberry Haze. This year, New Jersey, Arizona, and the District of Columbia legalized medical marijuana. But in Illinois, legislators followed Boston's lead to ban blunt wraps. Meanwhile, in already-loose California, voters rejected a ballot proposition that would have made it the first state to legalize and tax the crop. It was awful news for most West Coast stoners, but a small relief for some who claim that the munchies are a lot less fun since last January, when Cali became the first state to ban trans fats in all restaurants.
Not banned yet
Even with acts of state tyranny like the Four Loko ban compromising constitutional freedoms, right-wing blowhards have plenty to be thankful for this year. True, this past weekend, wacko liberal lawmakers finally strong-armed the Senate into repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell — but for anyone whose heart isn't warmed by this attack on the military's cherished tradition of institutional homophobia, perhaps there's good news in the gun leniency that was enacted during President Obama's second year in office.