Microsoft Legal Marijuana Tracking Software Has A Serious Case Of The Munchies
The software is a new product in Microsoft’s cloud computing business. It is meant to help states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana keep track of sales and commerce. Microsoft will be partnering with Kind, the startup that initially developed the software.
Kind is trying to take the marijuana business more mainstream. The company offers a offers a range of products, including ATM-style kiosks that facilitate marijuana sales. Kind is also working with banks that are comfortable with marijuana aficionados and their transactions. While Microsoft is avoiding the kiosks and other Kind products, the tech giant will be working Kind’s “government solutions” division, offering software only to state and local governments that are looking to build compliance systems.
Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft, remarked, “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.”
This is a rather bold move for Microsoft on a very controversial issue. Stores that sell marijuana rarely receive support from major banks. These businesses rely on cash or kiosks, such as the ones produced by Kind, that take payments inside dispensaries. The government has relied on these smaller startups to help develop technology that can track marijuana plants and sales.
Microsoft has recently worked hard building up its Azure cloud services business and will offer eight pieces of software to Azure Government users. Kind will be one of those software options, and is the only one related to marijuana.
Twenty-five states have legalized marijuana. Another five, including California, will vote on the issue in the fall. Kind does not have a state-contract, but they are working with Microsoft to place their dispensaries in Puerto Rico. Legal marijuana sales are expected to jump to $6.5 billion USD this year, from $4.8 billion last year. If California joins the fray, this number could increase to $25 billion by 2020. The possible opening of a market in California has led to the scramble for big revenue opportunities. This fall's election could prove to be an interesting turning point for the market.