(David Zalubowski, Associated Press file)

Best of 2014: Here are 25 incredible true stories from Colorado & beyond

Blue-ribbon weed: Denver County Fair pot showcase kicks off
Samantha Chea’s pot brownies won a first-place blue ribbon at the Denver County Fair in earlier off-site judging. (Denver Post file)

11. A Pot Pavilion at the County Fair: Marijuana joined roses and dahlias in blue-ribbon events at the nation’s first county fair to allow pot competitions. The Aug. 1-3 Denver County Fair included a 21-and-over “Pot Pavilion” where winning entries for plants, bongs, edible treats and clothes made from hemp were on display. Actual weed wasn’t allowed at the pavilion, which occupied an entire floor of the National Western Complex. Instead, fairgoers saw photos of the competing pot plants and marijuana-infused foods. Read more about the Pot Pavilion.
• Post-fair lawsuit: Seven people are named as plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against a company accused of giving people samples of marijuana-laced chocolate at the Pot Pavilion, which was supposed to be drug-free. Read more about the lawsuit.

The New Cannabis Lexicon: Do you know the difference between shatter and wax? Fatties and pinners? We’ve got all the lingo, from A-Z.

12. A cannabis-friendly comic con: Welcome to the man behind Chromic Con: “This will be a comic con where you’ll be able to nerd out and get high and have fun in a safe, acceptable, friendly environment,” organizer Jaymen Johnson said. “I’ve always liked opportunities to come together and nerd out and dress up as your favorite fantasy character or comic book hero or sci-fi character. At every event I attended there was cannabis use happening in corners or parking lots. But it was covert. This seems like the perfect event for cannabis — it shouldn’t be discriminated against.” Read more about Chromic Con in Colorado.

13. From religion and root beer to recreational weed: A former A&W fast food restaurant in Frisco known better for its sign’s religious messaging than its root beer floats is now a recreational marijuana shop. “I went out on the town last night in Breck,” said Native Roots Apothecary owner Rhett Jordan. “We finished a long day of getting the store set up, and then I took our whole Native crew out for dinner. We told some locals about our new shop and one of them said, ‘Thank God!’ Literally. “Yes, somebody literally said, ‘Thank God.’ I was like, ‘Amen.'” Read more about the A&W transformation.

Map: Colorado recreational marijuana shops and medical dispensaries

Massive amounts of marijuana destroyed in Albanian police raid
Smoke rises from the Albanian village of Lazarat on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, from villagers burning their cannabis ahead of a police raid. (Hektor Pustina, The Associated Press)

14. Raid on Albanian village ends with 25.4 tons(!) of weed seized: A five-day raid on a lawless southern Albanian village netted huge amounts of marijuana and heavy weapons. About 800 police besieged the village of Lazarat for days, coming under fire from guns, rocket-propelled grenades and even mortars before being able to move in. Authorities said they had destroyed 25.4 tons of marijuana, 91,000 plants and four drug-processing laboratories in the village, believed to be one of Europe’s biggest marijuana producers. Read more about the raid.

15. Washington state pot auction’s strange aftermath: A marijuana grower who had trouble giving away $14,000 has finally found someone to accept the donations. Fireweed Farms owner Randy Williams made $600,000 in the first recreational pot auction in Washington and wanted to share some of the proceeds. Read more about the donation denials.

16. Uruguay’s ambitious pot plan: There’s a revolution happening in the streets of this sleepy South American capital — one full of controversial landmines, landmark precedents and intense international heat. While the possession of cannabis has been federally legal here since 1974, the government’s recent effort to regulate the sale of recreational marijuana has thrust the quiet, modest country of 3.3 million into the international limelight. Read more about the groundbreaking Uruguay pot program.

Regulating marijuana: That time Uruguay’s President Mujica said, “It’s a complete fiction what they do in Colorado”

L.A. marijuana farmers market faces possible shutdown
A crowd watches as marijuana is divvied up during Los Angeles’ first-ever cannabis farmers market on July 4, 2014. (Frederic J. Brown, AFP/Getty Images

17. An all-marijuana farmers market: On July 4th weekend, a group of southern California-rooted ganjapreneurs celebrated their freedom by opening a marijuana farmers market in Los Angeles. According to organizer Paizley Bradbury, the California Heritage Market — which required a California medical marijuana license for entry — would save customers time, money and headaches, given California’s current medical marijuana infrastructure. Read more about the unusual farmers market.

18. Coffee with your cannabis: It was only a matter of time before somebody brought new meaning to the popular stoner rite of passage “wake and bake.” And it makes perfect sense that such a creation is coming out of coffee-crazy Washington state. Read more about Legal, the coffee drink packaged with 20 milligrams of THC.

More recreational weed: Stay caught up on news coming out of Washington state

19. Weedy frozen pizzas: The president and CEO of a Pittsburgh-based pizza chain has an idea for a cannabis-infused sauce. Unique Pizza and Subs Corp. CEO Jim Vowler said interest in weed-laced pizza and pizza sauce infused with marijuana extract is especially high in Canada, where the company’s largest shareholder lives. The company said it was working with Colorado marijuana-infusion chefs to develop a line of cannabis-infused sauces based on Unique Pizza’s recipes. Read more about this tasty plan.

20. You can now buy weed from a vending machine: A few months ago we wrote about the wow-factor of marijuana vending machines: Their legality, how they work and why some feel these machines represent a future that revolves around convenience, control and automation. But those pot vending machines sit behind the counter, and only the budtenders would have access to them — taking something away from a consumer’s experience of, “Whoa, I just bought marijuana from a machine.” A different kind of machine, one customers can access, debuted in Colorado in April. It’s called ZaZZZ, and maker American Green calls it “an automated, age-verifying, climate-controlled marijuana dispensing machine.” Read more about the ZaZZZ.

Just ask: The 15 most intriguing questions our readers had this year in Cannabist Q&A

Georgia man's okra mistaken for marijuana during police pot search
Okra growing in a field in Homestead, Fla. (Joe Raedle, Getty Images file)

21. That time okra was mistaken for marijuana: A Georgia man says drug suppression officers wrongly ID’d his outdoor okra plants as marijuana. Dwayne Perry of Cartersville tells WSB-TV that he was awakened by a helicopter flying low over his house and then some heavily-armed deputies and a K-9 unit showed up at his door. They were from the Governor’s Task Force for drug suppression and they were out looking for marijuana plants. Read more about the bogus bust.

22. This food truck sells only infused edibles: We’ve already discussed the merits of buying marijuana from vending machines and smoking cannabis via professional, machine-rolled cigarettes. But I’m not sure any of that prepared us for a food truck that only sells infused edibles and foods. Ready or not here is your introduction to the Samich Truck, the 40-foot school bus-turned-food truck which debuted on April 19-20 at the U.S. Cannabis Cup in Denver. Read more about the unique food truck.

Cannabis in the kitchen: Our most popular infused recipes, from pot brownies to mac and cheese (plus our cannabutter how-to)

23. A quick getaway: Costa Rica’s coast guard has recovered 1.5 tons of marijuana that officials say was thrown into the sea by smugglers being chased in the Caribbean after a tip from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The country’s Public Security Ministry says the suspect boat escaped its Costa Rican pursuers. Read more about this Caribbean caper.

24. Help! Police! Somebody stole my 1-gram bag of pot: A female college student at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling had a gram of pot stolen from her dorm room and reported the theft to the Sterling Police Department. Problem is, the 19-year-old Littleton student attending college in the northeastern Colorado town isn’t old enough to legally possess marijuana in Colorado sans a medical license. Read more about this weed theft.

25. Wait, a pot piñata? Matthew Taijeron had me at “marijuana piñata.” “Our Freedumb Fest party is on the Fourth of July,” said Taijeron, co-owner of the Speak Easy Vape Lounge in Colorado Springs, “and we’ll have raffles and lots of free bud, DJs and a marijuana piñata and barbecue — you can’t have July Fourth without barbecue.” Hold up, a marijuana piñata? “Sure, we’ll have between 30-50 pre-rolls in there and some medicated candies and some grams of hash.” Read more about this adult treat.

Year in review:
Special report from The Cannabist

The big picture: How Colorado’s cannabis experiment put the state into a global spotlight

$573 million in pot sales: Here are 12 stats that define the year in marijuana

Pot journalism: A year in the life of the world’s first marijuana editor — The Denver Post’s Ricardo Baca, who oversees The Cannabist, talks about our changed perspective in Colorado

Polling Colorado: One year of legalized pot hasn’t changed Coloradans’ minds