Put this in your pipe and smoke it: Microsoft is offering pot growers software tools to help them stay on the right side of America's relaxed laws.
Marijuana is legal in Microsoft's home state of Washington, as well as in Oregon, Colorado and Alaska, and is prescribed medicinally (with varying degrees of laxity) in California and many other states. Redmond isn't getting into the growing or dealing business, but wants to sell cloud services to companies that do.
To that end, it has signed up with LA-based upstart Kind Financial to offer seed-to-sale transaction software that keeps track of inventory and processes orders and sales. Crucially, the software is designed to be in compliance with state laws. The suite will be hosted on Microsoft's Azure Government cloud service.
"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," exhaled Kimberly Nelson, executive director of state and local government solutions from Microsoft, in a press release you'll need to be on hard drugs to comprehend.
Different states have developed a patchwork of laws regulating the sale of wacky baccy. While the drug remains illegal on a federal level, many states are experimenting with the drug and Microsoft thinks its servers can handle it.
At stake is a growing new vertical sector for Redmond to sell Azure services to, and the company is not alone. Vengeful VC Peter Thiel has invested $75m in Privateer Holdings in Seattle, which bankrolls ganja group Marley Natural and Leafly.com – a Yelp-style website for pot strains and dispensaries.
"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," said Kind boss David Dinenberg.
There's certainly a lot of money to be had in this budding business. Colorado, the first state to allow puff to be sold legally, shifted $996m worth of 420 products last year, and the state banked $135m in marijuana taxes and fees. It's clearly a serious business – no toke [that's enough dragged out puns – ed.] ®