The Microsoft cloud just got a whole lot smokier, and the cannabis world just got a little bit squarer. The monolithic tech giant announced Thursday that it has joined forces with KIND Financial to create a cloud-based software that helps state and local governments track and regulate cannabis production and retail from seed to sale.
Though the bajillion dollar-valued company is only hanging at the outskirts of the weed biz (the most boring boondocks of said biz: computer software for government bureaucrats) a major name such as Microsoft entering into the green rush looks to be an omen of things to come.
More and more corporations are expected to get into the cannabusiness as the big pot money inflates into big big big pot money. Legal cannabis sales are expected to rise to $6.5 billion this year, a nearly 40 percent increase over last year’s total sales of $4.8 billion, and that number may go as high as $25 billion by 2020, according to Matthew A. Karnes of Green Wave Advisors, a number crunching firm that consults for marijuana businesses.
“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,” Karnes told the New York Times. “Nobody has really come out of the closet, if you will.”
The software isn’t yet a major part of the weed industry, but Microsoft and Kind could be laying strategic groundwork to become essential to not only cannabis regulators, but cannabis business people as well. Kind Financial has offered seed to sale tracking software to private marijuana businesses for three years now. If the government-targeted version of their application becomes ubiquitous with state and local authorities, Kind could become the easiest way for producers and retailers to remain legally compliant. If governments using Kind begin to legally require cannabis businesses to use a tracking software, Kind could even become a de facto mandatory purchase for those businesses.
Though Microsoft isn’t currently part of Kind’s services to private marijuana businesses, the corporation seems open to entering that sector of the industry. Kimberly Nelson, executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft told the Times as much, saying, “This is an entirely new field for us… We would have to figure out which conference might be the premier conference in this space. That’s not outside the realm of possibility.”
So, Microsoft’s software could become an essential part of the industry, unless of course Google just up and creates a free version of the program that puts Microsoft out of business, which they tend to do from time to time.