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White couple at center of social equity lawsuits in multiple cannabis markets

New York marijuana retailers recorded roughly $150 million in sales last year, nearly $300 million less than estimates and far shy of the promised multibillion-dollar state market.

At least part of the reason for the state’s slow rollout of adult-use cannabis was a 2022 lawsuit that challenged the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act’s social justice initiatives, which were intended to help diversify the marijuana industry and undo harms created by the war on drugs.


That suit, which has prompted a nationwide reevaluation of social equity programs, is one of a series of constitutional challenges that claim prioritizing state residents for cannabis business licenses violates the U.S. Constitution’s dormant commerce clause.

At least six such lawsuits – filed in California, New York, Washington state

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