N.Y. Assemblyman Arrested for Pot Skips Cuomo Address for Colorado

Photograph by Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

Marijuana at the Evergreen Apothecary in Denver on Jan. 9, 2014.

Steve Katz, a New York Assemblyman arrested for marijuana possession last year, was all business and no smoking when he skipped Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state-of-the-state address for a trip to Colorado, where the legal pot industry is booming.

The 60-year-old Republican is a member of the ArcView Angel Investor Network, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm focused on the legal pot business. He said in an interview that he went to Colorado to better understand the industry in which he plans to invest.

“This is all a dream come true for a child of the ’60s all grown up,” Katz said by phone. “I see it for all the incredibly positive things you can do in the medical field and I see it as a great robust new industry that is a long-time coming.”

Katz met in Colorado with leaders of the pot companies whom he said are the country’s next billionaires.

“In these leaders, you’re looking at the next generation of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs,” he said.

During the Jan. 8 speech Katz skipped, Cuomo, a Democrat, said he’ll be reviving a 1980 law that set up a research program for medical marijuana. Advocates say it’s a half-measure that won’t reach the people who could be most helped by the drug. Katz agreed. Last month, he watched parents of children testify during an assembly hearing on medical marijuana about how their children can’t get an oil derived from pot that can help stop seizures, he said.

“I beg Gov. Cuomo to look at the video of the hearing and tell me how he’d be able to sleep at night not allowing the broadest interpretation of medical marijuana,” Katz said.

Katz voted in 2012 against a medical marijuana bill. He said today he did so because he believed that’s how his conservative constituents would have wanted him to vote.

He was already planning to vote for the measure when it came up again last year before he was arrested when he was allegedly caught with a small amount of pot after being pulled over for speeding. The marijuana charge, a violation, was later dropped. He paid a $75 fine and was ordered to do 20 hours of community service.

No taxpayer money was used on the Colorado trip, he said.

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