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Source - Debra Borchardt of Forbes Magazine

Microsoft Develops Software For Cannabis Industry

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Microsoft is becoming the first major corporation to dive into the legal marijuana business, partnering with KIND Financial, a leader in the cannabis tech space, to launch a service to help state governments keep track of marijuana from seed to sale.

Prior to this, the space has been filled by smaller software businesses willing to take a risk with the industry.

Workers clean up and check plant tags after transplanting marijuana plants to grow in a greenhouse at the Los Suenos Farms facility in Avondale, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. About 938 dispensaries, which outnumber Starbucks in Colorado, in 2015 yielded $135 million in state taxes and fees, 44 percent more than a year earlier. Yet as the market enters its third year after voters legalized retail sales in 2012, officials question whether the newfound income outweighs the escalating social costs. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

Kind has built a software system called Agrisoft to collect and monitor data that is needed in order to maintain compliance with state rules and laws. Under their partnership, Microsoft will market Agrisoft to state agencies for use through its Azure cloud service. To date, KIND has no state contracts and they submitted a proposal to Puerto Rico along with Microsoft two weeks ago.

“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; and, KIND is proud to offer governments and regulatory agencies the tools and technology to monitor cannabis compliance,” said KIND Financial Founder & CEO David Dinenberg, “I am delighted that Microsoft supports KIND’s mission to build the backbone for cannabis compliance.”

Dinenberg said that a lot of the larger companies had flirted with the idea of working with the cannabis industry, but had stayed away until now. “I think Microsoft sees it as an opportunity to work with the government,” he said.”We’re a 100% compliance company and compliance is the backbone of any heavily regulated business.”

The software giant has set up a new unit for the venture, Microsoft Health and Human Services Pod for Managed Service Providers. Matt D. Cook, Colorado’s former Senior Leader of Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division and author of Colorado’s groundbreaking medical marijuana laws and regulations, will serve as KIND’s Special Advisor on Government Matters.

“KIND’s strategic industry positioning, experienced team and top-notch-technology running in the Microsoft Azure Government cloud, made for an easy decision to align efforts,” said Kimberly Nelson, Executive Director State and Local Government Solutions from Microsoft. “KIND agreed that Azure Government is the only cloud platform designed to meet government standards for the closely regulated cannabis compliance programs and we look forward to working together to help our government customers launch successful regulatory programs.”

It’s a not inconsiderable market, and one likely to grow. Twenty-five states have legalized medical marijuana, but each has a unique set of rules and regulations making compliance particularly challenging. In addition, five states will vote on legalizing recreational use of marijuana in November’s elections, including California. Plus, there is a great deal of speculation that the Drug Enforcement Administration may look to reschedule marijuana’s drug classification, which would open the market even further.

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