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Institutional Cannabis Lenders Community is Growing

Blog Post

BMD Attorneys Stephen Lenn and Brandon Pauley are pleased to provide the following report on the organizational meeting of the Institutional Cannabis Lenders Community (ICLC) that we initiated and formed.

As indicated in prior blogs, for purposes of this Community, institutional lenders include banks, credit unions, dedicated cannabis loan funds and family office/ultra-high net worth investors. [1]

The ICLC now has 21 participants including banks and credit unions (ranging in size from single-state community institutions to 2 of the 50 largest US banks), a credit union service corporation that syndicates cannabis loans to credit unions, dedicated cannabis funds (including Altmore Capital, Chicago Atlantic Silver Spike and Rainbow Realty), several specialty lenders, investment banks and family office advisers.

The organizational meeting of the ICLC was held on March 31st in Scottsdale, AZ. Perhaps most importantly, from our perspective, is that the consensus, summarized below, reflects the view of those who attended that both the ICLC itself and the in-person meeting were worthwhile. 

  1. Attendees included both critical mass and a geographically dispersed representative cross-section of our participants—large funds, banks and credit unions, and investment bankers from California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Arizona.
  2. We had both general engagement and participation, with discussions covering a variety of topics ranging from the diverse perspectives of the attendees on the current status and future direction of the cannabis industry in general and lending, in particular. Additionally, there was robust discussion of topics of interest, including the challenges posed by the illegal markets, the current scarcity of equity and the potential impact of the current banking disruptions.
  3. Consensus:
    • The ICLC should be formally organized;
    • We should target at least 4 sessions, 2 in person (piggybacked on the major cannabis events that many of the participants might be attending anyway—perhaps coming in for an ICLC meeting the day before MJBiz or Benzinga) and 2 virtual meetings—1 or both of which could be for a forum on evolving best practices.
    • Participation should be selective, limited to organizations and individuals engaged in some facet of the cannabis debt markets, and that participants should be proactive in identifying and recruiting additional members.

[1] "Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders driving Erosion of the Barriers" (May 13, 2022)

"Community Banks: Collaboration, not isolation, is the key to protecting/ enhancing the cannabis business you pioneered" (August 26, 2022)

"Invitation to Banks & Family Office/Ultra-high Net Worth Investors Exploring Cannabis Lending to Join Our Informal Institutional Cannabis Lenders Community" (December 2, 2022)

If you’re interested in learning more, please contact Steve Lenn at or Brandon Pauley at

Entourage Effect and Shield Compliance Join the ICLC

In a continuation of its recent growth, only a bit more than a year after its organization, the ICLC is pleased to announce the addition of 3 more new participants. One of these is a commercial bank. In accordance with our commitment to our bank participants, they are not identified outside the Community unless they specifically authorize it. The other 2, Entourage Effect Capital (EEC) and Shield Compliance, are each well known within the cannabis industry and will enhance the ICLC’s potential value to its participants, enriching the spectrum of relevant and accretive cannabis industry experience, skillsets and perspectives available to them.

Trulieve Tax Announcement and the ICLC Growth Spurt

On March 12, leading cannabis tax lawyer James Mann made an extremely timely virtual presentation to ICLC participants regarding the announcement by Trulieve of its receipt of more than $100 million of tax refunds in connection with a challenge to what it owes under Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code.

Another Big Move Out of the Shadows; First Citizens Bank, the nation’s 19th largest, poised to enter the Cannabis Market

A commentary on cannabis and hemp dated January 12, 2024 posted by First Citizens Bank on its website reflects the decision by the Bank to extend its very substantial hemp/CBD platform into the cannabis space.

A Closer Look at Cannabis

At the Nov. 30 Akron Roundtable event "A Closer Look at Cannabis," moderated by Andrew Meyer, deputy editor of news Ideastream Public Media, a varied group of panelists spoke about expected and potential outcomes and efforts of marijuana legalization.

Out of the Shadows - Cannabis Going Mainstream

BMD Phoenix Office Managing Partner, Stephen Lenn, recently discussed today's cannabis industry at an Akron Roundtable as part of their "Bringing it Home" series.