A New York State Republican assemblyman who opposed medical marijuana legislation at every turn was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The police found the marijuana after they pulled him over for speeding.
A statement released shortly after the March 2013 incident, law enforcement officials reported that state police discovered Steve Katz had a “small bag” of marijuana on him.
A New York State Trooper said that the 59-year-old assemblyman had been driving 80 miles per hour in 65 mph zone. He noticed the marijuana and took Katz into custody, charging him with possession before he was finally bailed out.
Katz had voted against the legalization of medical marijuana back in June.
The New York Times noted that the Republican assemblyman also sits on New York’s Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee.
Katz said that this was merely an “unfortunate incident” during a press conference.
“This should not overshadow the work I have done over the years for the public and my constituency,” Katz said to reporters. “I am confident that once the facts are presented that this will quickly be put to rest.”
After the arrest, the Republican politician flipped his position on marijuana, even joining the investor network of San Francisco-based marijuana investment and research firm The ArcView Group.
ArcView CEO Troy Dayton said that Katz is “gung-ho” about marijuana.
He says that he hopes to help pool millions of dollars of investment capital and fund marijuana-related start-ups.
“For me, entering this industry at this time is a dream come true from a child of the Sixties all grown up,” Katz said, completely ignoring his history as an opponent of medical marijuana.
“I decided to vote what I believed to be the vote of my constituents. The day after that I told my wife, ‘Next year, I really don’t care. I’m voting for medical marijuana because that’s what I believe in and I’m not comfortable with what happened.’ … I knew how I was going to vote and I felt great about it. I knew how I was going to vote a year before the police incident.”
The marijuana bust was “an epiphany,” he explained. “‘You’re turning me into a criminal? You got to be kidding.’”
Katz says he knows doctors, lawyers, businessmen and pillars of their community who all use marijuana.
“We’re all criminals? This is ridiculous,” he emphasized.
The arrest he faced “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;.”
“Steve Katz is not an anomaly,” Dayton said. “In the last few months numerous very prominent and seemingly unlikely investors have joined our investor group. People from all walks of life are realizing that cannabis may be the next great American industry.”