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Will Investment Bank’s Support Help Win a New York Marijuana License?

The state of New York is expected to name the five winners of its coveted medical-marijuana licenses any day now, but one bidder thinks he has a leg up over the competition thanks to an influx of cash from an unusual source: a major investment bank.

Ari Hoffnung, a 2005 Bronx City Council candidate whose Fiorello Pharmaceuticals was named after legendary New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, asserted that his company’s partnership with CastleOak Securities, a subsidiary of major Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald, places his bid head-and-shoulders above the rest. He said he is the only applicant to publicly announce a partnership with a leading investment bank.

“There are, unfortunately, not too many banks who are willing to work with the medical-marijuana industry,” Mr. Hoffnung said. “I’m grateful that CastleOak stepped up to the plate and worked in partnership with us.”

CastleOak helped Mr. Hoffnung’s Fiorello Pharmaceuticals raise $7.5 million in Series A financing, an amount he hopes to double if awarded a state license. Marijuana investors estimate startup costs for companies in New York to be a minimum of $25 million. A spokeswoman for the bank did not immediately return a request for comment. [Read more at Crain’s New York Business]

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