California Marijuana Start-Ups, Shut Out From Banks, Turn to Private Backing

Companies like Big Rock, which has invested more than $10 million in the cannabis industry, are playing an important part in funding the industry’s growth. “Starting up a testing lab or a dispensary is extremely capital intensive,” said Stephen Kaye, Big Rock’s chief operating officer. Private firms can make decisions and move large amounts of money quickly, he said. He receives pitches every day from entrepreneurs, and is especially interested in medical research.

For Jody Hall, an entrepreneur in Seattle, joining an investment company has freed her to focus on her core business, rather than the myriad regulations that accompany its operation. Ms. Hall, who runs a conventional cupcake business, started a new venture, GoodShip, two years ago to make cannabis edibles. She found that she was spending “way too much time” getting advice from lawyers on what was or wasn’t allowed. Ms. Hall recently

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