As state after state has legalized cannabis in one way or another, big names in corporate America have stayed away entirely. Cannabis, after all, is still illegal, according to the US federal government.
But Microsoft is breaking the corporate taboo by announcing a partnership to begin offering software that tracks cannabis plants from “seed to sale,” as the pot industry puts it.
The “cannabis cloud” software is meant to help states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of cannabis keep tabs on sales and commerce, ensuring that they remain within the realm of legal bounds.
“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 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 cannabis business mainstream — offers a range of products, including A.T.M.-style kiosks that facilitate cannabis sales, working through some of the state-chartered banks that are comfortable with such customers.
But is Microsoft too late to get a hold on the cannabis industry? A site called Cannabis Reports says it tracks the genetic characteristics of over 9,000 varieties, and has been doing so for years.