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Microsoft is going into the legal weed business by teaming with startup "Kind" on plant tracking apps

The software — a new product in Microsoft’s cloud computing business — is meant to help states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana keep tabs on sales and commerce, ensuring that they remain in the daylight of legality.The two companies will create Azure-powered cloud apps that track plants from "seed to sale," helping legal dealers comply with laws. The decision to enter the trade was probably not taken lightly by Microsoft, as most corporations still won't touch it with a ten-foot bong. However, the software giant is based in Washington state, where it's perfectly legal to sell pot, and sees the potential for profits.

But until now, even that boring part of the pot world was too controversial for mainstream companies. It is apparent now, though, that the legalization train is not slowing down: This fall, at least five states, including the biggest of them all — California — will vote on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.



Marijuana buds marketed by rapper Snoop Dogg on display in a dispensary south of downtown Denver. (David Zalubowski / AP)

So far, only a handful of smaller banks are willing to offer accounts to companies that grow or sell marijuana, and Microsoft will not be touching that part of the business. But the company’s entry into the government compliance side of the business suggests the beginning of a legitimate infrastructure for an industry that has been growing fast and attracting lots of attention, both good and bad.




“We do think there will be significant growth,” said Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft. “As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road.” - Microsoft's Kimberly Nelson tells the NYT. 
"As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road." Twenty-five states in the US have legalized pot, either for medical or recreational use, and five more are voting this year to approve it, including California and Nevada. That's created a kind of (Acapulco) gold rush in Silicon Valley, with startups sprouting everywhere.
 

Microsoft’s baby step into the business came through an announcement on Thursday that it was teaming up with a Los Angeles start-up, Kind, that built the software the tech giant will begin marketing. Kind — one of many small companies trying to take the marijuana business mainstream — offers a range of products, including A.T.M.-style kiosks that facilitate marijuana sales, working through some of the state-chartered banks that are comfortable with such customers.

Microsoft will not be getting anywhere near these kiosks or the actual plants. Rather, it will be working with Kind’s “government solutions” division, offering software only to state and local governments that are trying to build compliance systems.

But for the young and eager legalized weed industry, Microsoft’s willingness to attach its name to any part of the business is a big step forward.

“Nobody has really come out of the closet, if you will,” said Matthew A. Karnes, the founder of Green Wave Advisors, which provides data and analysis of the marijuana business. “It’s very telling that a company of this caliber is taking the risk of coming out and engaging with a company that is focused on the cannabis business.”

David Dinenberg, the founder and chief executive of Kind, said it had taken a long time — and a lot of courting of big-name companies — to persuade the first one to get on board.

“Every business that works in the cannabis space, we all clamor for legitimacy,” said Mr. Dinenberg, a former real estate developer in Philadelphia who moved to California to start Kind. “I would like to think that this is the first of many dominoes to fall.”


The software giant is based in Washington state, where it's perfectly legal to sell pot, and sees the potential for profits.

However, corporate America still sees weed as a turnoff -- it's been difficult for legal pot dealers to get loans from banks, for example. To push it into the mainstream, businesses will need to ensure they comply with laws so that the industry doesn't become a bad scene. "The goal of this relationship is to leverage each company's resources to provide state, county, and municipalities with purpose built solutions for [cannabis seed to sale] technology," Kind said.



source: New York Times,

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