PHOENIX – Raul Molina lived a simple life growing up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; he remembers catching tadpoles, playing in the mud and placing pennies on railroad tracks to be flattened.

Instead of counting pennies these days, he’s counting the millions his cannabis company, Mint Dispensary, brings in.

“I’m an anomaly, you know, what I did. Mine was all hustle,” Molina said. “I got a lot of lucky breaks from a lot of people who believed in me and helped me get to where I was.”

Now, a few more Arizonans may catch a similar break, thanks to the state’s new marijuana social equity program. It will allow minorities, low-level marijuana offenders and others affected by the lengthy war on drugs to purchase one of 26 licenses available under the program. The 26 are among the 169 retail licenses that have been issued across Arizona.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Arizona and 17 other states, the U.S. cannabis market is growing rapidly. By 2024, the National Hispanic Cannabis Council projects the industry will be worth at least $30 billion.

Molina pioneered the nation’s first cannabis

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