California native Malcolm Mirage’s dream was to own a legal cannabis dispensary. For years, he had grown marijuana and sold it on the black market, while working a day job as a personal trainer. But in his late 20s, Mirage decided it was time to jump into the growing legal industry — before it got too crowded — and build his expertise into a sustainable, above-board business.

In order to open up that business, which he calls Mirage Medicinal, he needed to come up with $500,000 in startup capital, so Mirage began to scale up his operation, expanding into lucrative markets in other states.

“I needed [money] for anything that a regular normal business would need $500,000 for, except I could just never go to a bank,” Mirage, 34, says. “People still can’t go to a bank to get a loan for selling cannabis.”

Mirage had almost reached his goal when he fell on some bad luck. He ended up being arrested and serving time in jail — a record, which now makes it a challenge for his cannabis business to thrive. [Read more at NPR]