Marijuana sales are spreading across the nation thanks to the growing legalization of the drug. Now a new financial firm, KindBanking, wants to be the financial backbone for the hemp and cannabis industry.
"Think of us as the GE Capital of this under-served, but potential multi-billion dollar industry," said KindBanking's founder and CEO David Dinenberg.
Combined recreational and medical marijuana sales in the United States are projected to be $8 million in 2018, according to Marijuana Business Daily. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana and citizens in Colorado and Washington voted to allow adults to legally possess a small amount for recreational use. Colorado sales began the first of the year, and Washington pot shops are expected to open soon.
KindBanking, which launched in April, already has nearly a dozen deals, and is talking to start-ups in the U.S. and around the world, including Amsterdam and Panama. The West Hollywood firm provides equity financing in states that allow pot, plus alternative capital like debt, convertible debt and other venture capital or angel investments.
In return, KindBanking becomes a partner and owns a portion of the company.
"We're doing deals for dispensaries, growers, equipment companies, edible products makers, even a weed-based online news network" Dinenberg said.
"The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in America. Marijuana offers folks a way to make career-changing decisions, a chance to own their own business, forge their own path, get rich, dream the dream, live the life."
KindBanking hopes to fill the void traditionally served by banks or venture capital firms.
"Banks are especially uneasy since possession and distribution still remains illegal under federal law," Dinenberg said. "Many pot entrepreneurs might have a business plan but can't even open a checking account or secure a loan That's where KindBanking steps in. We'll even provide armored car service if that's what they need."
As for growth potential, Dinenberg believes it's only a matter of time before more states legally sell recreational marijuana. But don't expect New Jersey to follow suit.
Governor Chris Christie told CNBC's "Squawk Box" Tuesday, "I'm against the legalization of marijuana. I think it's wrong, I don't think we should do it"
—By CNBC's Kerima Greene