Good morning. It’s Thursday. We’ll look at competitive marijuana growing and how it figures into the new retail marijuana industry in New York. We’ll also see why an accuser says the state attorney general, Letitia James, protected a top aide from fallout over sexual harassment allegations.
Credit…Sebastian Mejias for The New York Times
In horse racing, there’s the Breeders Cup. In women’s tennis, there’s the Billie Jean King Cup. In yachting, there’s the America’s Cup.
In marijuana growing, there’s the New York Growers Cup.
My colleague Ashley Southall says it’s a competition that highlights small craft growers who are operating in a legal gray area. Weed grown here will become the centerpiece of the state’s new recreational market, because retailers will be allowed to sell only marijuana grown in New York.
But growing marijuana in New York is, for now, still illegal without a license. Most weed now sold in New York arrives through shadowy backdoor channels from California. A strain called Cap Junky won for best exotic and rare variety as Odee, its grower, lamented that New York consumers were missing out on the quality and variety of California weed.
The Growers Cup awards party was part celebration, part trade fair. Growers talked shop with potential distributors; many contestants were hoping to become the next big name in cannabis — or make connections with whomever that turns out to be. At nearly every table, someone was rolling a joint or taking a dab (a concentrated, smokable form of cannabis that comes in a sticky wax). And a man who called himself Mr. Puffington was spraying vapor from a “cloud cannon,” a device that looked like a cross between a bong, a water gun and a plastic food storage container.
There was connoisseur talk. Like wine, cannabis has different notes that are defined by terpenes, natural compounds that affect taste, smell and color. Cannabis is thought to have at least 150 of them. The competition narrowed the flavors to five.
But unlike wine, weed is not tied to regions. You can call a champagne weed “champagne” regardless of whether it is grown in Champagne, in France, or Bay Ridge, in Brooklyn.
There was also talk about licensing. The participants hope to be licensed in New York’s recreational market, but applying will mean exposing their activities to the government with no guarantee that doing so will help their chances of approval. That poses risks for people whose finances depend, at least in part, on a plant that remains illegal at the federal level.
The Kolektor, a former infantryman who was one of the organizers of the competition, started growing weed to wean himself from opioids prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder. He said his product is “local, clean, never sprayed and represents the culture of New York.” It also represents money his family depends on.
“If there’s no way for people like me to get into the industry,” he said, “we’re not going to change our lifestyle.”
Enjoy a mostly sunny day with temps near the low 50s. Expect a partly cloudy evening with temps dropping to the mid-30s.
Suspended today (Immaculate Conception).
The latest New York news
Political muscle: An influential hotel workers’ union is flexing its power at a key moment in the city’s recovery, affecting major projects from casinos to homeless shelters.
New at City Hall: Mayor Eric Adams named Sheena Wright as his first deputy mayor and Camille Joseph Varlack as his new chief of staff, tightening his inner circle as a tumultuous first year in office drew to a close.
Rat fine: The mayor, a noted rat antagonist who once endorsed a special device for drowning them, contested a summons and fine over an infestation at a rental property he owns.
Aaron Judge is here to stay:In a $360 million deal that was fueled by a team’s desperation and a player’s desire for a legacy, Aaron Judge will stay with the Yankees. His marching orders are clear: Win.
Arts & Culture
Whitman’s New York: WaltWhitman said “Leaves of Grass” “arose out of my life in Brooklyn and New York.” Here’s a list of some places in the city that lent shape to the book and his life.
A new chief for the home of the dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History named Sean Decatur, the president of Kenyon College, as its new president, succeeding Ellen Futter, who will step down in March after 30 years.
Van Gogh in the spring: At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a van Gogh exhibition will open in May, focusing on his fascination with cypress trees. It will also include his famous painting “Starry Night,” which hasn’t left the Museum of Modern Art in 13 years.
Lobby restaurants are back: As the city’s restaurant scene slowly comes back to life, hotel lobbies are once again a great place to get a bite.
An accuser assails Letitia James’s handling of a sexual harassment allegation
A woman whose allegation of sexual harassment led to the resignation of a top aide to Letitia James, the state attorney general, said she came forward because she believed James was protecting him and not aggressively pursuing an investigation.
The woman, Sophia Quintanar, accused James of withholding a public finding against the aide, Ibrahim Khan, who was James’s longtime chief of staff. That let him resign with his reputation intact.
Quintanar also told my colleague Jeffery C. Mays that she was troubled that James’s office had handled her complaint less aggressively than complaints against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year.
In her first public interview about her encounter with Khan, Quintaranar said investigators told her they had substantiated her allegation that he touched her inappropriately and kissed her against her will outside a bar in Brooklyn in November 2021. She said the incident happened while they were attending a political fund-raiser.
In acknowledging Khan’s departure last week, James’s office said only that an “independent, impartial investigation” had been conducted and that Khan had “since resigned.”
“Me and the other victims, we deserve the same vindication that was given to these other victims that she stood up for,” Quintanar said, referring to other women who accused Cuomo of harassment. “It shouldn’t be any different because it happened in her house.”
James said in a statement, her first since Khan’s resignation took effect, that “I thank the women who came forward, and I want to assure them that they were heard and that I believe them.” She said her office had treated the matter “as aggressively as every other matter that has come before our office,” taking “disciplinary action” against Khan within 24 hours and bringing in an outside law firm within 72 hours for “an impartial and exhaustive review of the allegations.”
“Mr. Khan resigned while the investigation was still ongoing,” James said in the statement. She said on NY1 on Wednesday that the allegations against Khan had been substantiated. When asked if her office was considering making a criminal referral, she said that “at this point in time, this is a personnel matter.”
But she added, “We will consider the possibility of a referral.”
Quintanar had been a deputy press secretary in James’s office before leaving in 2021 to work as a campaign consultant. She went to the fund-raiser — for Zellnor Myrie, a state senator from Brooklyn — to drum up business and reconnect with old friends, recalled Amy Bettys, a friend who went to the event with her.
Quintanar said that she ran into Khan not long after she arrived. They talked over drinks, but when the noise made it hard to hear, they went outside to continue what she described as a professional conversation about politics. That was where she said that Khan, who is married, grabbed her by her shoulder, pulled her close and “stuck his tongue down my throat.”
She said she confronted Khan before heading back inside. She and Bettys soon left the bar, and Quintanar immediately told Bettys what had happened.
Fran Hoffinger, a lawyer for Khan, disputed Quintanar’s account. “We deny allegations of wrongdoing, and we are not litigating this in the press,” she said.
Manhattan at dusk
That moment when the office towers
shimmer in gray shadows,
when the Tiffany lamp in a bay window
glows warmly, and you wonder,
Who lives here? Whose life is so charmed?
On the parkway, commuters lumber home,
while a fresh horde hurtles into town
for a “New York evening.”
The streetlamps flicker on. They sing:
“Day is done, the small victories,
the petty squabbles, let them go.”
But something in you clings to twilight,
wants to hold on to that sweet sliver of time,
that faint glimmer —
before it vanishes in the bright darkness
of a city night.
— Jimmy Roberts
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we could get together here. — J.B.
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.
Melissa Guerrero, Morgan Malget and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team [email protected].