Microsoft Getting Into The Legal Marijuana Business With Software That Tracks Pot Plants

Image courtesy of DEARTH !

We’ve come a long way from the days of warning teens about the dangers of reefer madness, America. These days, major corporations are hopping into bed with marijuana in the hopes of making money in states where marijuana is legal. Microsoft is the first big company to get into the weed business, with a new partnership to offer software that tracks pot plants from “seed to sale.”

Microsoft announced Thursday that it’s teaming with a Los Angeles start-up called Kind, that built the software, the New York Times’ Dealbook reports. It won’t be getting anywhere near the green stuff, however, but will be working with Kind’s “government solutions” division, offering the software only to state and local governments that are working on building compliance systems.

The software helps keep tabs on sales and commerce of the plants, and to ensure governments don’t stray from the legal path.

Marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, but as state after state legalizes it, companies are starting to pay attention. It’s legal for recreational use in four states and Washington D.C., and this fall, five more states will vote on whether or not to join that list in some capacity.

“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.”

Elsewhere on the NYT, Quentin Hardy writes on the Bits blog that the move makes sense, considering how rapidly the marijuana industry has been growing, and will continue to evolve as other states legalize it. It also follows a very interesting curve in “America’s relationship with vice,” Hardy writes.

“Major recessions, which lower tax revenue, tend to create the legalization (and heavy taxation) of commonplace illicit practices,” Hardy points out. “The Great Depression brought back drinking. State lotteries became widely popular in the long downturns of the 1970s. The recession of 2008 seems to have lit a million legal joints. Who knows what we’ll get with the economic shock that doubtless lies a few decades hence.”

The First Big Company to Say It’s Serving the Legal Marijuana Trade? Microsoft. [NYT Dealbook]
Microsoft Makes a Marijuana Play [NYT Bits]

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