Microsoft Dips Into the Cannabis Industry

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Computer software behemoth Microsoft announced last week that it will begin a new partnership with Kind Financial, a Los Angeles-based startup focused on providing regulation software for the burgeoning marijuana industry.

Kind Financial provides “seed to sale” tracking of cannabis for producers, distributors, and government officials to help streamline compliance with state regulations.

“It’s software that enables regulators, in real time, to know where and how much marijuana is being grown, sold or produced,” founder and chief executive of Kind, David Dinenberg, explained to the Los Angeles Times. “We’re providing real-time inventory all over their state and information on how much sales tax or other tax they should be collecting.”

Since fall 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, with Pennsylvania and Ohio having since joined their ranks. Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in four states: Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and the home state of Microsoft’s own headquarters, Washington. Five more states, including California, will vote on recreational legalization this upcoming fall.

The partnership with Microsoft not only gives Kind Financial access to the corporation’s sales departments and Washington lobbyists, it lends them a much-needed air of respectability in the still-murky waters of the marijuana trade industry.

“Every business that works in the cannabis space, we all clamor for legitimacy,” Dinenberg said. “I would like to think that this is the first of many dominoes to fall.”

As for Microsoft, Kind’s software will become a component of their Azure Government cloud-computing program, part of the company’s increasing efforts to diversify beyond personal desktop applications.

“This is an entirely new field for us,” Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft, told the New York Times. “We do think there will be significant growth. As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road.”

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