Assemblyman Steve Katz, R-Yorktown, Westchester County, is joining up with a California venture-capital firm to seek investments in marijuana-related businesses, his spokesman confirmed today.
Katz was charged with marijuana possession and speeding on the Thruway in March. He voted against the legalization of medical marijuana last year, but voted for it this year.
The blog, Smell the Truth, reported yesterday that Katz will seek to raise $10 million through the San Francisco-based marijuana investment and research firm The ArcView Group.
Katz’s spokesman, Joseph Ahearn, confirmed the report.
“I know he wants to be involved with ArcView and what they are doing,” Ahearn said. “They are basically a venture-capitalist firm involved with cannabis-related industries.”
The blog quoted Katz as saying he wants to be a champion for medicinal marijuana and the legalization of marijuana. Katz was at a hearing on Long Island today on legalizing medical marijuana held by Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan.
“He’s been interested in this for some time now, and he wanted to get involved with it. It’s separate from his legislative duties. It’s something he wanted to invest in,” Ahearn said.
The blog said that Katz plans to help fund marijuana-related companies focused on business software, security, and distribution.
In the article, Katz is quoted as saying that his marijuana possession charge “didn’t change anything other than make me decide that I was going to not only be a champion for medical marijuana, and for its total legalization, I was going to become part of the wave that’s building in the industry itself. It’s a great feeling. It’s very liberating.”
Katz was criticized after his marijuana charge for not supporting medical marijuana, which has passed repeatedly in the Democratic-led Assembly, but has not been approved in the Republican-led Senate.
In a op-ed piece in June in the Journal News, Katz apologized for the marijuana charge and expressed his support for medicinal marijuana. The charges were to be dropped after Katz completed community service.
In his speech on the Assembly floor in support of the medical marijuana bill, Katz said he regretted his previous vote. He said that as a veterinarian and son of a ailing mother, he understood that the bill would be helpful to New Yorkers.
“We cannot ignore the reality that cannabis has real medicinal properties, and to be perfectly clear, this bill will not legalize the type of behavior one would imagine in a Cheech and Chong or Harold and Kumar movie,” Katz wrote in the op-ed. “Rather, this bill takes a responsible step in helping those who are in need.”