When it comes to planning for the year ahead, the calendar for cannabis might come into consideration for those who have opened this message. We’ve compiled something to look forward to each of the first six months, even though we realize that making plans right now can be a big challenge.

January - New Mexico’s legislative session begins tomorrow (Jan. 19), and lawmakers are certain to take up cannabis legalization again. Check the list of proposed legislation here; it’s updated regularly.

February - Since the session is 60 days long, watch for bills to be introduced right up to the deadline on Feb. 18 and for debate to carry on to the final days. Feb. 4 is also National Hemp Day, we’ve learned.

March - Nominate your favorite cannabis dispensary, CBD store and others in the annual Best of Santa Fe reader poll before the March 15 deadline at sfreporter.com.

April - The fourth month of the year and its 20th day have become the de facto high holidays for cannabis. The pandemic put a damper on 4/20 parties last year, and with vaccination underway, we don’t look for mass puffouts this year either. But maybe bake a cake and roll a blunt at home?

May - Final voting for the Best of Santa Fe 2021 all month long! If you’re planting outdoors in Northern New Mexico, the time is nigh. The average last frost in Santa Fe is sometime in the first half of May, but we always wait until Mother’s Day just to be safe.

June - While most major cannabis trade shows and research conferences were postponed in 2020, lots of them are back on the books for June, including the sixth Native American Cannabis and Hemp Conference in Temecula, California, and the Cannabis Industrial Marketplace Chicago Summit & Expo.

And don’t forget, the third Monday of each month, you’ll find a new edition of Leaf Brief! Scroll down for more regional and national news, and thanks for reading!

Regional News

See you (back) in court

Ultra Health is going at it with the state Health Department again in court. Just last week, the giant in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program filed a motion that essentially reopens its 2016 litigation over plant caps for growers and newly alleges discrimination. Courts had ordered the state to use a data-based method of choosing a plant cap, but put a temporary cap in place to give time for new rules to be created. As Andy Lyman writes for New Mexico Political Report, emails from former health Secretary Kathy Kunkel seem to show an effort to thwart Utlra Health and delay the process. “Right now I am trying to figure out [the] last possible date to hold a rule hearing (looks like July 5) in time to control the plant expansion of Ultra [Health]. They cannot produce a new crop for 16 weeks, so I have roughly 4 months to manage this,” Kunkel wrote in an email to Jane Wishner, a policy adviser for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

New Mexico in session

As state lawmakers get ready to head into the 60-day legislative session that officially kicks off Tuesday, New Mexicans are in for a ride. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham published a list of her personal priorities, and third from the top was “Legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis through legislation that protects the state’s medical cannabis program, provides for workplace safety and roadway protections and enforcement and clear labeling of products.” House Speaker Brian Egolf said during a news conference on Democratic leadership priorities Jan. 14 that he expects to see several bills on legalizing cannabis. Though that topic is not on the short list the party presented, Egolf said “it is always nice to have additional revenue to the state from new sources.” Last year, the House passed a legalization bill only to see it stall in the Senate.

Proposed bills are already being pre-filed by senators and representatives, who have until Feb. 18 to file. The Roundhouse is closed to the public during the session due to public safety concerns related to COVID-19, but committee proceedings and floor votes will be livestreamed and also available for listening and commenting via telephone. Issues to watch include how the proposals treat taxation, personal cultivation and expungement.

From the retail scene

Santa Fe’s dispensaries seem to be showing nice diversity on their menus this week, and we’re tickled by these T-shirts from Cannabis. Good. that mark the pandemic with a toking roll of toilet paper. CG adds this to its collection of gear that earns a discount when shoppers show up wearing it. CG also announced the closure of its “A CBD Store” and says “everything must go.”

Around the Nation

Money is pouring into states...

Cannabis sales are soaring in the West. Colorado reports that November revenues pushed annual numbers above $2 billion for the first time. In Oregon, meanwhile, consumers met the $1 billion mark.

The coming year is likely to see even more cash infusion into state coffers and cannabis businessfolk across the nation. Potlander’s predictions for 2021 from economist Beau Whitney include a nationwide $20 billion in legal sales, federal banking reform and some of the first interstate cannabis compacts.

...but national leadership matters

The woman President-elect Joe Biden has tapped to helm the US Department of Commerce is a governor who advocates for full legalization of cannabis and wants to regulate sales through state-run stores. Abbey Heusier writes for The Weed Blog that with Biden taking an unsupportive stance on legalization, “his pick of Raimondo is evidence that the president-elect is taking steps toward diversifying the cabinet.”

Meanwhile, if Merrick Garland becomes attorney general, he’d be the person in the administration “in a position to unilaterally initiate a petition to reschedule cannabis,” writes Marijuana Movement. “As head of the Justice Department, under which DEA is organized, he would also have considerable influence of the agency’s scheduling and enforcement policies when it comes to marijuana.” Garland is no cannabis reform warrior. In 2013, as an appeals judge, he upheld the DEA’s denial of a petition to reschedule the plant.