In 2016, Microsoft quietly made itself the first big tech company to enter the legal cannabis industry. The Seattle-based tech giant did so by partnering with a startup that offers cannabis tracking software.
The startup is called Kind and was founded in 2013. The software Kind provides its customers monitors and tracks seed-to-sale production of herb for growers, sellers, and government agencies. Kind’s software is designed to collect and process data to make certain that flower product is processed properly and in compliance with various laws and guidelines. The idea is that using the software will ensure that legal buds are sold legally and don’t go into the black market. The software also calculates taxes cannabis entrepreneurs owe when selling their products.
After Kind came to an agreement with the tech giant, Microsoft packaged the weed tracking software with cloud-based tools for various government agencies. There have not been any government contracts reported as of yet. The Kind software was initially attractive to Microsoft because they don’t touch the plant, reducing the risks still associated with age-old federal cannabis prohibition.
It’s well-known that dispensaries and retail locations are cash only, keeping in-house ATMs because they can’t accept credit cards. As a result, state tax collectors have to process a large amount of paper bills. Currently, there exists little to no infrastructure that determines how much a legal weed business should pay in taxes. This has been discouraging for several states when it comes to legalization. Microsoft and Kind hope to change that as much as they can.
As the future of legal weed unfolds, the Kind software could serve as a model to remove financial and compliance hurdles for cannabis entrepreneurs, while also enabling state governments to monitor sales. While Microsoft getting involved in this space might not seem like a big deal, it could end up being a significant benchmark for both the tech and legal weed sectors. Executives at both Kind and Microsoft hope that their partnership could serve as a success story that encourages more tech companies to get involved in the industry as more states legalize the plant.
“No one can predict the future of cannabis legalization. However it is clear that legalized cannabis will always be subject to strict oversight and regulations similar to alcohol and tobacco,” Kind said in a prepared public statement.
While to some this may seem like progress, there are cannabis activists that are opposed to this type of software, even going as far as considering it a form of spying.
Originally published by The Marijuana Times.