Microsoft is getting into marijuana business, but not as you might be thinking. The Redmond-based software titan has partnered with California-based KIND Financial to help government agencies track and trace weed growers and distributors using its software and technology.
The new partnership enables KIND to join the newly-formed Microsoft Health and Human Services Pod for Managed Service Providers and also work on Microsoft Azure Government cloud, a network that handles the needs of the U.S. government. The goal of this new relationship is to ensure that marijuana trades are compliant, safe and secure.
"KIND's strategic industry positioning, experienced team and top-notch-technology running in the Microsoft Azure Government cloud, made for an easy decision to align efforts," Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft, said in a statement. "KIND agreed that Azure Government is the only cloud platform designed to meet government standards for the closely regulated cannabis compliance programs and we look forward to working together to help our government customers launch successful regulatory programs."
The legalisation of marijuana use in the United States has been a sensitive subject. The weed sales are still illegal under the U.S. federal law, but certain states such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington have taken independent stand to legalise recreational use of marijuana. This fall, at least five states, including California, will vote on recreational use of cannabis. Medical marijuana has been permitted to sell under certain circumstances in about 25 states, provided a prescription or licence from a doctor is produced.
In a post on the New York Times, it is noted that Microsoft is one of the first technology giants to enter legal marijuana industry in the States. KIND Financial, which provides technologies to ensure the legal marijuana trades are compliant with the U.S. government norms, offers weed kiosks to entertain sales of the drug. And Microsoft's step to join forces with a company attached to the cannabis business, although it will only offer its services on a software level, is seen as a major step forward.
"Nobody has really come out of the closet, if you will," Matthew A. Karnes, the founder of Green Wave Advisors, told NYTimes. "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."