Skip to main content

Microsoft is marketing software to help state governments keep track of legal marijuana

Microsoft is going where most other tech companies fear to tread — into the legal cannabis business.

No, they aren't going to be selling, buying or even handling any marijuana, but the New York Times reports that they are building a platform for software to assist states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana keep track on the various stages of commerce. The goal is to make sure everything is legal, stays legal and it is all on record.

To do this, Microsoft is partnering with Kind a company who built software to track legal marijuana from "seed to sale" for local and state government agencies. Kind's government solutions department says their mission is to help the cannabis industry to transact safely; transact securely, and stay in compliance with the rules and regulations governing marijuana-related businesses. Microsoft will leverage their cloud platform Azure to facilitate and expand the services, and will be actively marketing it in states where marijuana is legal at some level. Microsoft will not be working with Kind's Kiosk division or any point of sale services — this is strictly for government agencies.

Since marijuana is illegal at the federal level, businesses built around it have a difficult time when it comes to transactions with banks or lenders, as well as finding companies that will assist in staying compliant. Microsoft's move into the field is a big step towards legitimizing the industry and building a stable infrastructure for regulatory needs is a significant step towards changing the status-quo. Green Wave Advisors' founder Matthew Karnes, who provides analytical data for the cannabis industry, praised the Redmond tech giant for the move.

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 suggests that legal marijuana sales will reach $6.5 billion in 2016, and says the number could climb to $25 billion annually by 2020 with more states voting to allow recreational sales of marijuana. With 25 states allowing the sale of marijuana for medical or recreational use, and five others — including California — to vote on regulated recreational sales this fall. The industry is indeed growing, and the days of cash-only sales are over. Microsofts steps should prove a boon to all involved, and will likely lead the way for other tech companies to get involved in a thriving new industry.

I'm an RHCE and Electrical Engineer who loves gadgets of all kinds. You'll find my writings across Mobile Nations and you can hit me on Twitter if you want to say hey.

65 Comments
  • I think this is a great move and demonstrates how technology and technology companies can act for social change. Putting aside the pothead jokes, this is a serious issue that many states will be dealing with over the next decade and it should be an interesting debate. In the long term, I think Microsoft is on the right side of history here and having them involved at this early stage adds legitimacy to these new state-sanctioned companies.
  • Well these types of drugs are actually legal in many other countries so this kind of technology and software could be used in those places as well
  • Sorry to be off topic here, but is AskDan a think of the past? I don’t recall seeing any recent episodes.
  • This.......i am also a big fan of askdan ... Please bring it back
  • How can you think it is, as always there will be some other scheme Microsoft is cooking up to screw people for the feds. There is a history of this.
  • Could you be a little bit more precise with "There is a history of this."...
  • And yet, you provide 0 facts to back yourself up, or prove that this is in anyway what you claim.
  • Maybe he's a pothead and doesn't want any regulation on it because he knows lot of doctors etc are giving prescriptions to people who really don't have a legitimate medical condition. To be honest marijuana's one of the major reasons many youth won't work today. All they do is smoke, play games, and get tattoos. I personally don't care what other countries are doing, and don't draft to live in a world where did rule for the love of money they can generate. That's the only reason they're being legalize to start with buy the government.
  • And again, what facts do you have to back this up?
  • This is a dumb move.  My Company and one of our associated schools distrcits have already contacted Microosft about this.  In short, they believe this a a bad message to send to kids. During a meeting Friday their was serious talking about a pernament change to Android and Apple devies.  We are talking about a School distrcit that dumbs over $20 million a year into microsoft based products.  The school district is going to contact other school districts on monday about building support for a state wide boycout, they push for a national boycout.  I am telling you, these people were pissed off.
  • So your school district wants pot use to be unregulated? I'm totally against legalizing marijuana, but it's not Microsoft who's legalizing it, it's the government and I'd prefer if they are going to legalize it, there be some sort of control on the doctors and companies who will be prescribing or selling it, otherwise they will just be glorified pot dealers and no difference between then and a common drug dealer. Your school should be saying the government is sending the wrong message to the youth by legalizing it and giving teens who May be tempted to try marijuana a legal way to do it. You and I both know many doctors have already been busted for giving prescriptions to people who don't need them and also defrauding Medicaid as well.
  • You forgot to say "get off my yard." Seriously, you have such an antiquated view on the subject.
  • Antiquated because it's true or because I'm a non-smoker, drinker, or drug user? What I've stated are facts and have been proven.
  • Edited: Reply fail.
  • Well, it looks like everyone in your school is not educated when it comes to cannabis. I don't say that as an insult. They have a similar view of what I had from growing up with reefer madness and other anti-marijuana material. The truth of the matter is that weed is significantly exaggerated and many generations were lied to about it's medical benefits by the government-it was written about by Nixon's top aide too. Anyways, MS's involvement wouldn't be sending a wrong message to the kids... Unless kids are reading industry news and if they did, they would know understand that MS is in the business that helps a business comply with the laws in tracking from seed to sale. The fear is evidence that we were all misinformed in the past. Wagging the dog.
  • "Social change." "Right side of history." Obama has done massive damage to the US with those phrases.
  • Well said
  • The new alcohol to be careful about?
  • The new alcohol to be careful about?
  • Much safer than alcohol; so there is that.
  • >Much safer than alcohol; I guess depending on WHO you talk to (big topic of discussion over the years).....On a medical level, not sure what is worse in the long term but, moderation with everything in life you should be ok.
  • Like with everything it's individual. If somebody has an addictive personality, if they won't stay away, something will get them. Others can have a drink or smoke a joint and they'll be fine.
  • Alcohol is actually considered (based on a study) more harmful than crack or heroin.
  • Absolute nonsense. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • No, it isn't.
  • Get high and Get Stupid.  Great motto.  Kids smoking pot are overwelming in the bottom 20% over thier class.  There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, they are loosing.  I had a D1 scholarship soccer player loose his ride this year over Pot.  Started smoking in the summer of his junior year, grades tanked.  Was eneligable for his senior year of soccer and ended up barley graduating with a 2.0.  Pro Pot smokers do not want to do Honest statisitcs, just ones that suppor thier cause.  
  • So much irony in this comment.
  • I would argue most people (I have heard numbers as high as 75%) have smoked pot at least once in there lives.  I know MANY successful people who either have or still smoke weed at least occassionally.  Your "rule" isn't even close to a rule.
  • Not so, marijuana impairs ones ability to operate a motor vehicle and makes them not want to work; at least today's youth.
  • The beginning of the end of Microsoft.
  • How so? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Because when something is illegal regardless of the science backing it as a safe and beneficial product, people assume it is bad.
  • I'm not on any side here but there is also science saying that global warming isn't a real thing. I'm pretty sure most of us can say it is a thing, one that us humans cause. My point is science is very easy to manipulate for either side. I'm fairly certain someone could make a fairly educated argument against marijuana and it's benefits also using science. Posted via the Windows Central App for Symbian
  • "but there is also science saying that global warming isn't a real thing: No, science is not saying that, individuals with special interests try to misrepresent science to hint something that is settled is not.
  • Climate change is a natural state and what we've experienced is not much. Selling fears of disaster is an industry and a government power grab. I remember them selling this nonsense since I was little with how we had caused the hole in the Ozone layer. They do this to every generation. Regardless of what you believe and if you subscribe to the climate change faith, none of the specific disaster predictions have come true.
  • On the contrary, humans don't cause global warming. The earth cycles between warming and cooling and we're just speeding the process up not creating.
  • @SammyD97, right on point. By burning fossil fuels faster than they are made (it's natural process that takes aeons) and cutting down the worlds rainforests at the same the delicate balance has been broken. Never the less this is about Microsoft getting involved in a rather touchy subject (for some) not global warming :P.
  • In what way ? If anything Microsoft sees something big here. The states that have it legal need a way to manage it, the sellers need software to keep track of everything.  As state by state gets it, Microsoft will grow with it. I dont see it as a bad thing, in fact states would love to have the software
  • The 'beginning' started long before this I'm afraid.
  • The stoners will keep Microsoft going. It's a force to be reckoned with. Imagine if every one would get a Windows Phone :p When you are stoned you don't miss any apps.
  • No Dunkin Donuts makes it a no go.
  • Nice...btw this was on world news 3 days ago. Nice now if it would become legal in my state, I have not touched the stuff in almost 15-20 years..... I used to always like to "toke up" a little and kill the lights and play video games all night. Sigh, the good old days...
  • I dont keep up with legalizing marijuana or any of its business, but I would've thought there would have been something like this in place to even legalize it.
  • Windows 420
  • Lumia 420
  • Could be the names of the software... ;)
  • we are windows 10 10586.420 build
  • just business ...
  • As an American citizen, I find it offensive that my follow citizens think they live in the land of the free, yet they consider it ok that it is illegal to possess or sell a plant.
  • Try bringing a non native plant into the country. Everything derives from some natural resource.
  • Non-native species can be hugely damaging, though,.
  • Dude was just going off that plant possession laws offend him.
  • Every time you use the word marijuana I cringe. It's called ******* cannabis for God's sake.
  • How do you feel about "pot" or the multitudes of other names? Marijuana and cannabis are both common name's for the same thing. Neither is more right than the other. Calm yourself.
  • Great move. For medical use at least there are real uses that cannot be fulfilled with ordinary medicine. One is pain relief. Medical Mariuana is still not legal in Denmark but I have known a person that used it for pain-relief. He said it was the only thing that he found that really helped.    
  • In germany it is ( for MS patients etc) But it's 180 Euro(!) for 5 grams and a lot of hassle, too. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • They should research if there is correlation between poor software quality and availability of legal weed. Washington state could be a good use case.
  • Great move !
  • God's plant deserves professional approach. MS is really get into future business. Excellent.
  • I would've assumed California would've been the first state to legalize it and am kinda surprised it's taking them this long. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Big money in 'medical marijuana'. And perhaps they are afraid that Silicon Valley adopts the quality standards of Redmond Washington.
  • Very smart. This is a brand new market and the first one in will win big.
  • I don't really see how this is such a huge deal. Is there not software for managing the distribution of any controlled substance? How is the marijuana market so unique as to need It's own customized solution?
  • I would just like to thank the author for abstaining from the typical, terrible weed puns and bad jokes that almost all other marijuana articles are filled with. I avoided this article for days in fear of the typical drivel, but was pleasantly surprised to find an adult discussion. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The Federal government should have legalized marijuana a long time ago.