Why I started a financial-services firm for pot

Most of us chase the American dream, so we know the drill: Think up an idea, gather our thoughts into a business plan, put our tax returns in order, then it's off to a bank.

But for the hundreds of entrepreneurs chasing the dream in what has become what some are calling the fastest growing industry in America, there is a major roadblock. Medical marijuana is legal in 24 states and Washington DC and also recreationally legal in four of those as well. At least a dozen more states have laws on the books or are about to be signed into law.

From robotics to real estate: The big bucks behind bud
From robotics to real estate: The big bucks behind bud   

But marijuana is not legal federally. Like heroin and LSD, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug. Federally, marijuana is restricted in all forms — including medical marijuana research. So banks, which contend with interstate commerce, can't give a loan even in those 24 states. Same with Small Business Association (SBA) loans.

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The bipartisan proposal in the Senate by Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) would not legalize medical marijuana in all 50 states. Rather, it would respect the states that set their own medical marijuana programs and prevent federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in those states.

So, for financing, even in the 24 states where it's legal, cannabis entrepreneurs either raise the initial start-up money from friends or family, or take the road show route or dig into their own pockets.

I, too, chase the legal cannabis dream. Without personal resources, I put together a business plan and pounded the pavement. Lucky for me, I found the rare investors who share my vision and provided a seed investment so I could start Kind Financial. Kind Financial is the first full-service financial solutions resource strictly for the cannabis industry.

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For the past decade, we have been looking for an industry to evolve as global outsource renders as obsolete so many U.S. industries. Now we have a winner. Cannabis has already generated billions in revenue, hundreds of millions in tax generation, tens of thousands of jobs. And it's made in America. Cannabis could be — and should be — a macroeconomic solution for the United States. But when and if the U.S. removes cannabis from Schedule 1 is anyone's guess.

David Dinenberg is founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Kind Financial, a financial-resource providing a financial solutions for the cannabis industry. A former real estate developer from Philadelphia who is no stranger to raising capital, he's using his skills to help companies in the legal cannabis industry that are being denied basic business services. David is building Kind Financial to be the "GE Capital" of the legal marijuana industry. Follow him on Twitter @daviddinenberg.

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