Microsoft recently became one of the first major technology companies to become a presence in the expanding legalization of marijuana across the U.S.
The company has announced an agreement with KIND Financial to offer “seed-to-sale software” to state and local governments to manage legalized cannabis sales and distribution.
According to Marketwatch, KIND Financial is using the Microsoft cloud to build out its services for government agencies. The Microsoft team will help its clients with legal matters, and trace legal cannabis sales while keeping the marijuana out of illegal hands.
USA Today reported that Kind Financial, based in Los Angeles, had been a client of the Microsoft Azure cloud since it launched in 2014, but were moved up to Azure Government after a series of talks. Azure Government is a separate cloud platform with security and compliance protocols more related to those who deal with the federal government.
As more states consider legalizing marijuana, more tech companies are looking to get on board. It’s a natural match because analytics firm New Frontier says marijuana sales reached $5.7 billion in 2015 and are likely to rise to $22 billion by 2020. Four other tech companies in the cannabis industry include:
1.) Privateer Holdings
Privateer is a marijuana investment company. According to Fortune, they recently received $75 million in fundraising that they call the largest in the marijuana industry. One investment firm involved in the funding was the Founders Fund, created by PayPal founder Peter Thiel. Privateer operates three companies in the industry including Marley Natural, named after reggae legend Bob Marley.
MedMen raised $3.75 million in funding from investors in 2014 and is working in Nevada to manage licensed dispensaries and facilities. MedMen is currently a marijuana management and consulting firm. According to the MedMen website, the company’s goal is to legalize medical marijuana in 27 states and the District of Columbia by 2017.
MassRoots is a leading technology platform and social network for the marijuana industry and has more than 900,000 users. Their mobile app and web portal let its users stay up-to-date on the latest legalization news and keep in touch with their local dispensaries.
The app lets people share videos and stories, meet other marijuana enthusiasts and learn about cannabis events and new strains discovered around the world. MassRoots has been featured on CNBC, Fox Business, Fortune, The Financial Times and more.
BlazeNow describes itself as where cannabis meets convenience. The BlazeNow app lets a user find and rate dispensaries, find delivery services, accessories, and doctors, and view current menus from dispensaries. The mobile app is available on iOS and Android.
Currently, 25 states have legalized medical marijuana use, and recreational use is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia. In November, five more states are expected to take up the vote.
Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, making federally insured banks hesitant to support the business. A Microsoft statement from USA Today read, “Kind agreed that Azure Government is the only cloud platform designed to meet government standards for closely regulated cannabis compliance programs and we look forward to working together to help our government customers launch successful regulatory programs.”