New Azure Service Makes Microsoft First Big Tech Company to Chase Pot Market

Jars of medical marijuana at a Los Angeles pot dispensary (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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Early pioneers in the business of legally growing marijuana have run into a number of challenges, including basics such as payment processing. Larger technology companies, wary that federal law still prohibits weed sale, have largely stayed completely away from what could be an extremely large market. Until now: Microsoft has announced an Azure partnership that dips its toes into the growing pot market, though firmly on the side of the law.

Microsoft has partnered with a Los Angeles startup named Kind, making it a “preferred software” vendor among the company’s options for government customers.

“We do think there will be significant growth,” Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft, told the New York Times. “As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road.”

For now, Microsoft is staying far away from weed selling, instead partnering to offer compliance management software for government agencies in states where marijuana is legal. But the “seed to sale” management tools are a sign that big-business conservatism around the issue might be falling to the side as the market continues to grow — along with the business opportunities.

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