It may not be legal across the country yet, but if corporate partnerships are any indication, marijuana is certainly becoming more legitimate. As the push for cannabis’ acceptance continues to play out across courtrooms and legislative floors nationwide, Microsoft has become the first major U.S. corporation to join hands with the weed industry.
In a unique partnership, the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant has teamed up with the startup Kind Financial, a California tech firm that helps businesses and government agencies alike track the sale of legal pot “from seed to sale.” Thanks to the new partnership, Kind will be able to utilize Microsoft’s government cloud.
The startup’s technology claims to close “the loop between marijuana-related businesses, regulatory agencies, and financial institutions.” In a statement to the BBC, Microsoft noted it supports “government customers and partners to help them meet their missions.”
“Kind Financial is building solutions on our government cloud to help these agencies regulate and monitor controlled substances and items, and manage compliance with jurisdictional laws and regulations,” a Microsoft spokesperson added.
The partnership certainly benefits Kind, which praised Microsoft’s cloud platform as the one “designed to meet government standards for the closely regulated cannabis compliance programs.” In speaking with the Weed Blog, Microsoft added that it would relish the opportunity “to help our government customers launch successful regulatory programs.”
It’s a bold move for Microsoft, but a potentially lucrative one, as the weed industry could soon become a highly valuable market.
“We do think there will be significant growth,” Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft told The New York Times. “As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road.”
But then again, Microsoft will also have to figure out how to navigate the tricky issue of differing opinions on the legality of marijuana. While cannabis is legal in Washington state, this is certainly not the case across the country.
All the same, it’s certainly a market-expanding move for Microsoft. “This is an entirely new field for us,” Nelson said. But there’s nothing like a little experimentation.