NEW YORK: More than a year before the first legal dose of marijuana will be dispensed in New York, a group of entrepreneurs gathered at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square in late October to discuss strategy with an influential state lawmaker. It was the weekly meet-up of the Cannabis and Hemp Association, which formed in May to get a jump on future business.
The mood among the 18 people at the table was one of excitement. Oleg Maryasis, 30, a former financial adviser, said he had just met with a group of investors who were eager to sink tens of millions of dollars into the New York cannabis trade.
The group’s organizer, Scott Giannotti, a bald, heavyset 35-year-old from Long Island whose résumé includes selling cellphones and rapping, and who now sells LED grow lights from China, questioned the meeting’s special guest, State Senator Diane J. Savino. Ms. Savino, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island, was a sponsor of themedical marijuana bill that New York passed last summer, 18 years after it was first proposed; her efforts led Elle magazine to name her one of its “13 most potent women in the pot industry now.”