MedMen, a cannabis management company based in Culver City, is set to broaden its business thanks to a recently launched $100 million private equity fund that will operate as a separate entity.

The firm, which caters to North America’s legal cannabis industry, said the MedMen Opportunity Fund is the first private equity vehicle of its kind. MedMen aims to close the full $100 million next year.

“We pride ourselves on being the industry leader in bringing institutional business practices to the cannabis industry,” said Adam Bierman, MedMen’s founder and chief executive, in a press release. “That thesis continues with the formation of the fund, which provides an unprecedented opportunity to monetize the fastest-growing industry in the United States.”

MedMen began as a chain of dispensaries in Los Angeles in 2010 but closed down its stores and pivoted in 2013 to provide operational management for state-compliant, fully licensed businesses that grow, process, or sell marijuana.

The latest venture was not so much a change in business plan as a continuation of the original mission, according to Bierman.

“MedMen does and will continue to offer business management to licensed operators in the cannabis industry,” Bierman wrote in an email. “The fund was a natural evolution from many years of doing business and being approached by investors interested in new and sounder ways to invest in this burgeoning industry.”

The two firms will have different owners and employees, but companies receiving an investment from the fund will also have to sign an agreement with the management company. Bierman said the arrangement was unique, likening the relationship to a hospitality fund investing in hotels working alongside an operating partner to run the establishments. The goal is to ensure a higher certainty of execution and returns.

“Your job as a fund is to go raise and spend money,” he said. “You are not qualified to run those businesses.”

The fund will invest in projects and companies located in supply-constrained, high barrier-to-entry markets, such as California, Nevada, New York, Massachusetts, and Canada. Fund managers will look at the number of licenses allowed by a state versus its population as a way to evaluate deals. Massachusetts, for example, only allows 20 licenses for a population of 7 million, meaning marijuana businesses in that state are likely to be lucrative.

Bierman said he couldn’t disclose how much money had been raised so far, but said anchor investors in the fund include Chicago’s Wicklow Capital, a principal investment firm that has also funded medical marijuana grower and dispensary operator PharmaCann.

Even though marijuana is still illegal under federal law, Bierman said the fund has been able to work with banks.

Troy Dayton, chief executive of Oakland marijuana investment and market research firm Arc View Group, said that a growing number of banks are willing to do business with marijuana companies as federal regulators have started to ease oversight.

“It’s slowly changing because of how much money there is,” he said. “The market is on a big growth trajectory. It’s leading to bigger investors and funds.”

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