It’s tough to take a cannabis business across state lines, even to where it is legal

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Among the major players state and nationwide at the North Bay Business Journal’s Third Annual North Coast Cannabis Industry Conference on Tuesday, Bill Silver, CEO of Santa Rosa-based CannaCraft, noted the difficulties his company faced in trying to grow its business to other states where cannabis is legal.

“I’m working with 10 to 20 other states with completely different regulations,” Silver said. “It seems to be a badge of honor to not listen to what any other state has done before,” he added, noting that the admittedly flawed California regulations at least provided some certainty when expanding operations.

The CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation, Neal Levine, brought the conversation back to the industry’s lack of access to banking services and offered a reality check on what pending federal legislation could change.

“On the federal level we’re hopeful to pass STATES Act into law,” Levine said, referring to pending congressional legislation that would amend the status of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act and provide increased access to the banking system for cannabis businesses.

He said while it likely would not convince big banks like Wells Fargo to mingle cannabis cash across state lines, the bill “removes the threat of the Department of Justice coming in and kicking in our doors and taking our assets for the crime of running a state legal business.”

He added the act was likely to pass in the house in the coming months but faced an uphill climb in the senate.

Andy Roche is vice president of finance at Poseidon asset management which was an early financier to the cannabis industry. He offered some advice on accepting investment as a cannabis company.

“Not all capital is good capital. The highest valuation isn’t necessarily the best valuation,” Roche said. “Be careful of who you add to your cap table.”

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