How New York's legal cannabis rollout ended up in the weeds

And many of the state's promises to social equity applicants went up in smoke

Illustration of the Statue of Liberty with marijuana leaves replacing the spikes of her crown
While legal cannabis struggles to find its footing, black market weed is flourishing
(Image credit: Illustration by Stephen Kelly / Getty Images)

The end of March will mark three years since New York became one of the states that legalized recreational cannabis use. When the state announced it was putting social equity at the center of its cannabis plans, many insiders and activists praised the state's prioritization of people whom the war on drugs had unfairly targeted. However, the program that was expected to usher in a more equitable cannabis market has floundered, leaving some of its most vulnerable potential cannapaneurs behind. How did New York end up dropping the ball with its legal cannabis market?

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