Police have encountered trouble in recent “spice” drug raids, as the synthetic marijuana they seized contains chemicals other than those banned by lawmakers in Virginia and other states. (Rob Ostermaier/DAILY PRESS)

As we end 2011, we’re reminded again that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

“Spice” manufacturers are stirring the pot by changing their recipes for synthetic marijuana, in effect sideswiping lawmakers’ efforts in Virginia and elsewhere to ban it. They have already marred several local drug busts, in which police seized spice but then found it did not contain any of the 10 chemicals banned by the laws.

More stories after the jump:

View Photo Gallery: A look back at the last few months of D.C.’s Occupy protests.

At least one of D.C.’s Occupy protests will continue into 2012. Despite recent health and safety concerns, The National Park Service has extended Occupy Washington, D.C.’s permit to protest at Freedom Plaza to Feb. 28. Look out for possible fireworks in February though — Occupy will share the plaza with the pro-capitalism National Center for Public Policy Research.

There is a school discipline gap between white and black students in the D.C. area, a Washington Post analysis has found. Black students in the region are two to five times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers, prompting leaders to look for hidden biases and potential solutions.

Before “The Daily Show,” we had the Capitol Steps. As the D.C.-based satire troupe celebrates 30 years on stage, it continues to skewer politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee helped make 2011 a memorable weather year for the D.C. area, but didn’t hurt the fragile Chesapeake Bay, scientists say.