Former Philadelphia real estate broker turned developer David Dinenberg (he worked with David Grasso on the Valley Square center in Bucks) says he has raised $2 million, from investors including Lindy Snider, daughter of Comcast Spectacor chairman Ed Snider, for his firm Kind Financial, a Los Angeles company that bills itself "the financial solutions platform provider for the quickly-growing legal cannabis industry."
Dinenberg tells me Kind is developing a smartphone app which, linked to a prepaid debit account, will enable pot-related businesses to close transactions without hauling lots of dangerous cash around. "Traditional credit cards and PayPal are not participating in the industry," so Kind's program, to be launched in April, will "help alleviate those concerns." He deliclined to name dathe banks that are talking to him about cooperating with Kind transactions.
Dinenberg says the idea came to him in 2012, while he was still a Philadelphian, watching a TV show about the cash problems of pot growers. "This is my life," he says he decided. Focusing on California's big medical-marijuana market, he moved his family to Los Angeles -- Hollywood -- to start the company. Does he worry about his family and dope? Dinenberg says he's shown his kids Dr. Sanjay Gupta's TV shows (Weeds and Weeds II) to teach them "marijuana is a medicine and not a drug."
Snider says she was raised to value "personal freedom" by her father Ed, longtime NHL Flyers owner, Comcast-Spectacor boss, and libertarian: When she came back from freshman year at Ithaca College as a self-described "semi-Socialist," her father "made me read Ayn Rand -- Atlas Shrugged -- before he would talk to me." She also transferred to Penn.
And, pot? "I don't partake," Snider said. She came to it in hopes of helping her mother, Myrna Snider, who died at 78 of cancer last year. "It was in her bones. The pain was extraordinary." Snider says doctors at the Philadelphia Medical Society mostly steered her toward clinically-proven painkillers. "But the medicines they had studied, opioids, didn't touch my mom's pain, didn't help her appetite, didn't help her sleep." So Lindy Snider experimented: "I secured a cannabis product for her to try. It was one of the few times in eight months she slept through the night. There is a lot of anecdotal support," though not a lot of clinical studies.
A cancer survivor herself, Snider decided to invest in the marijuana industry "because it helps people." Her Bridgeport-based skin-therapy company, LindiSkin, whose products, she says, are on sale in the gift shops at Penn Medical, Fox Chase Cancer, Sloan-Kettering, hopes to bring out a marijuana-based product line. Snider also backs Cloneshipper, an Arizona-based plant-shipment firm that handles medicinal marijuana in light-providing containers; and an investment firm, Poseidon Asset Management, San Francisco.
Banking is a big barrier to the pot business, she said. Even in recreational-marijuana states like Florida, growers have to pay in cash because banks fear falling afoul of federal drug-money laws. "So I want to be that bank" that helps make marijuana like any other digital-payments-based business. Shopping for a marijuana-finance business to back, Snider was introduced to Dinenberg, and committed cash after six months' talks.
"Nobody wants to see kids running around having total access to this," Snider concluded. "But wouldn't you rather have it regulated?"