Microsoft: First Company Serving Legal MJ Trade
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Microsoft: First Company Serving Legal MJ Trade
Posted by CN Staff on June 16, 2016 at 13:14:12 PT
By Nathaniel Popper 
Source: New York Times
USA -- As state after state has legalized marijuana in one way or another, big names in corporate America have stayed away entirely. Marijuana, after all, is still illegal, according to the federal government. But Microsoft is breaking the corporate taboo on pot this week by announcing a partnership to begin offering software that tracks marijuana plants from “seed to sale,” as the pot industry puts it.The software — a new product in Microsoft’s cloud computing business — is meant to help states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana keep tabs on sales and commerce, ensuring that they remain in the daylight of legality.
But until now, even that boring part of the pot world was too controversial for mainstream companies. It is apparent now, though, that the legalization train is not slowing down: This fall, at least five states, including the biggest of them all — California — will vote on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.So far, only a handful of smaller banks are willing to offer accounts to companies that grow or sell marijuana, and Microsoft will not be touching that part of the business. But the company’s entry into the government compliance side of the business suggests the beginning of a legitimate infrastructure for an industry that has been growing fast and attracting lots of attention, both good and bad.“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.”Microsoft’s baby step into the business came through an announcement on Thursday that it was teaming up with a Los Angeles start-up, Kind, that built the software the tech giant will begin marketing. Kind — one of many small companies trying to take the marijuana business mainstream — offers a range of products, including A.T.M.-style kiosks that facilitate marijuana sales, working through some of the state-chartered banks that are comfortable with such customers.Microsoft will not be getting anywhere near these kiosks or the actual plants. Rather, it will be working with Kind’s “government solutions” division, offering software only to state and local governments that are trying to build compliance systems.But for the young and eager legalized weed industry, Microsoft’s willingness to attach its name to any part of the business is a big step forward.“Nobody has really come out of the closet, if you will,” said Matthew A. Karnes, the founder of Green Wave Advisors, which provides data and analysis of the marijuana business. “It’s very telling that a company of this caliber is taking the risk of coming out and engaging with a company that is focused on the cannabis business.”David Dinenberg, the founder and chief executive of Kind, said it had taken a long time — and a lot of courting of big-name companies — to persuade the first one to get on board.“Every business that works in the cannabis space, we all clamor for legitimacy,” said Mr. Dinenberg, a former real estate developer in Philadelphia who moved to California to start Kind. “I would like to think that this is the first of many dominoes to fall.”It’s hard to know if other corporate giants have provided their services in more quiet ways to cannabis purveyors. New York State, for instance, has said it is working with Oracle to track medicinal marijuana patients. But there appears to be little precedent for a big company advertising its work in the space. It is still possible — though considered unlikely — that the federal government could decide to crack down on the legalization movement in the states.The partnership with Kind is yet another bold step for Microsoft as its looks to replace the revenue from its fading desktop software business. On Monday, it announced that it was buying LinkedIn.Microsoft has put a lot of emphasis on its cloud business, Azure. The Kind software will be one of eight pieces of preferred software that Microsoft will offer to users of Azure Government — and the only one related to marijuana.The conflict between state and federal laws on marijuana has given a somewhat improvisational nature to the cannabis industry.Stores that sell pot have been particularly hobbled by the unwillingness of banks to deal with the money flowing through the industry. Many dispensaries have been forced to rely on cash for all transactions, or looked to start-ups like Kind, with its kiosks that take payments inside dispensaries.Governments, too, have generally been relying on smaller start-ups to help develop technology that can track marijuana plants and sales. A Florida software company, BioTrackTHC, is helping Washington State, New Mexico and Illinois monitor the marijuana trade inside their states.Kind has no state contracts. But it has already applied, with Microsoft, to provide its software to Puerto Rico, which legalized marijuana for medical purposes earlier this year.Twenty-five states have now legalized marijuana in some form or another, with Pennsylvania and Ohio the most recent. The biggest business opportunity, though, will come from states that allow recreational use of the drug, as Colorado, Oregon and Washington already do.This fall, five states — including, most significantly, California — will vote on whether to join that club.Mr. Karnes, the analyst, said he expected legal marijuana sales to jump to $6.5 billion this year, from $4.8 billion last year. He says that number could climb to $25 billion by the year 2020 if California voters approve the recreational measure this year, as is widely expected.The opening up of the market in California is already leading to a scramble for the big money that is likely to follow, and Microsoft will now be well placed to get in on the action.Ms. Nelson of Microsoft said that initially her company would be marketing the Kind software at conferences for government employees, but it could eventually also be attending the cannabis events where Kind is already a regular presence.“This is an entirely new field for us,” she said. “We would have to figure out which conference might be the premier conference in this space. That’s not outside the realm of possibility.”Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Nathaniel PopperPublished: June 16, 2016Copyright: 2016 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis  Archives
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Comment #10 posted by The GCW on June 19, 2016 at 15:46:59 PT
The weak vs. the SUPERPLANT
There is so much happening right now, it almost doesn't matter what the DEA does or doesn't do.We are not waiting on them.If they do the right thing and remove cannabis from a Schedule at all, it would make a difference. If they don't states will continue bypassing them. Ignoring them!But, there's more. We're not only likely to see at least a few states RE-legalize...CANADACanada is on da way. Once Canada makes it's move and that's a whole country. The wall is leaning over and dropping. The ignoids holding it up are weak and getting weaker.They look stupid.They gotta feel stupid.They ARE stupid.If it goes from Schedule I to Schedule II, believe Me, that will change again.The weak are no competition against the SUPERPLANT.
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Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on June 19, 2016 at 11:48:02 PT
The DEA is never going to legalize cannabis. Just FYI. They'll be forced to accept Repeal from Congress or the SJC.and please don't think that Schedule II is legal. De-scheduled is legal. 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on June 19, 2016 at 10:41:46 PT
No, DEA will not Legalize Marijuana on August 1
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on June 19, 2016 at 07:44:07 PT
John Tyler
It is amazing how much I think like you!
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Comment #6 posted by John Tyler on June 19, 2016 at 07:35:06 PT
Schedule Two is a start
Schedule Two is a start. It is going to have to get a lot better. This a very good plant! It grows in the ground. It needs sunlight and water. It brings peace to friend and stranger. It is not some deadly material.
I hope Obama does something more before he leaves office. I hope Hillary will pick up from Bernie and go for full legalization. 
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on June 19, 2016 at 05:06:47 PT
U.S. Gov't Will Legalize Marijuana on August 1
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will reclassify marijuana as a "Schedule Two" drug on August 1, 2016, essentially legalizing medicinal cannabis in all 50 states with a doctor's prescription, said a DEA lawyer with knowledge of the matter.URL:
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Comment #4 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 17, 2016 at 15:15:57 PT
Observer, Sam 
Observer, I see this political system as a money system, with lots of side effects, greed, selfishness, contempt, etc. The bottom-line is that most of the side effects of a money cause suffering, as the acient leaders predicted it would, and only serves a small percent. How far can greed go?
What I find troubling about the corporation is that they do not report what they put in beer and achocol. I've read that there are toxins in them. There is some concern that they will corrupt cannabis in the same way. It's enough that they are poisoning us:
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on June 17, 2016 at 09:49:43 PT
corporate abuse
Thanks Observer for the blow-by-blow Orwellian rundown of the US!But it's not over yet folks!  Enough states have home-growing provisions. I predict the next 10 years will see massively overpriced commerical cannabis being overgrown by hobbyists.  If beer cost $400 a case everybody would brew their own. That's coming for cannabis.From what I've read female clones typically cost $5-10 at medical dispensaries in CA. It shouldn't be hard for most people to grow a couple plants for less than $100 total.
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Comment #2 posted by observer on June 16, 2016 at 22:51:53 PT
Ugly Total-Control Police-Statery
Notice this system isn't in place to help anyone; it is in place to help government police, to tax you, and jail you. This sort of totalitarian "seed to sale" tracking isn't freedom. It is more police state. Government has no more right to know what I grow, smoke, sell, or trade, than it has a "right" to know what I eat, what I drink, or what I say or think. Sure: I do understand people in government and their Stockholm-syndrome apologists want totalitarian control, and want to enslave and make a commodity of men.So yes, of course such want that to be right and proper, somehow. That's understandable, at least. Control-freaks and their hired full- courtesan press will happily put darkness for light, and call good, evil. Need to hide a wolf or two? No problemo, Central Casting can make them look just like sheep. Heavens no! It is not that a totalitarian control freak bean-counter-from-hades wants to account for every bean - every seed, that no man may buy or sell a pot seed without the id tracking system of the beast controlling it. Oh no no no! Let's instead call that, "seed to sale" protection - for the kids. It is all because of love of the children, you see. But do beware the Ministry of "Love".Because government is always renaming the bad things they do: the usual lying, police-state killing and destruction (John 10:10) into something more ... palatable. Thus a government Department dedicated to perpetual foreign adventures, and aggressive war-making and empire building is re-branded merely as Defense. A government organization established to make you sick, to dumb you down and to impoverish you, might be named the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (until that wears thin). A government agency with the purpose of making as many people as possible ill (and hence dependent on and subservient to government) is called an important and beneficent sounding National Institute of Health. A tax-feeding governmental body which exists in order to create and perpetuate a government- "solvable" (false) problem of "drug abuse" or "drug addiction", may be named a lofty-sounding National Institute on Drug Abuse. And so on.Government control freaks better - quick! - try to smear the laissez faire marijuana legalization in Washington D.C. (The police state can always start killing people and blame it on their opponents - this is a favorite M.O. of police-staters: a tried and repeated tactic the police state uses again and again.) Because if the control-freaks don't act fast in D.C., people may start to notice that they don't need a "seed to sale" BeastMark999(TM) system for ... a plant. A plant for crying out loud. People can simply grow it, share it, sell it, and trade it like walnuts, watercress, and St John's Wort: in a good ol', traditional, All-American, low-overhead, farmer's market. And {insert ugly gesture here} the totalitarians. Totally.
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Comment #1 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 16, 2016 at 15:59:42 PT
Corporate Americika 
I always knew that when corporate Americika smelled the profits, the war on this plant/people would be over.
Keep believing your free in this rigged system, eg: 2 choices for president is no choice at all. 
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