With the recent legalization of marijuana, usage has risen by 74% in 2014 alone. To capitalize on this booming industry and to aid new marijuana users and marijuana growers, Microsoft has decided to assist KIND Financial (KIND), a marijuana startup based out of Los Angeles. According to a recent statement issued by KIND, Microsoft will provide software solutions to track the marijuana growing process from start to finish, making it easier for marijuana business owners to make safe and secure financial transactions lawfully.

In this way, Microsoft has become the first major company to back the cannabis industry. This will also make it easier for states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana, as they can now utilize the Microsoft’s cloud computing network Azure. Azure will help in efficiently monitoring marijuana sales and commerce transactions, ensuring that they remain within limits of the law.

Currently, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and Washington DC, have already legalized recreational, as well as medical, marijuana for adults. Yet twenty more states have legalized marijuana for medical use only. While at least five states including California, US’s most populous state, are looking to vote on marijuana legalization for recreational use, this fall.  Since marijuana is legal in Washington state, where Microsoft’s headquarters is located, Microsoft has a lot to gain financially from this collaboration.

The cannabis industry faces a lot of difficulties since many banks and financial institutes avoid financing marijuana farmers and small business owners. One quarter of the Colorado’s medical-marijuana dispensaries don’t have a state license but are instead operating under a pending license application. Microsoft will avoid interfering in these matters; instead it will focus its efforts on acquiring government-facing contracts ranging from seed acquisition to sales tracking. In the long term, this will work towards building better compliance programs.

This move is well appreciated by many drug policy makers and public health experts. One of  them is Matt D Cook, former Senior Leader of Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division and author of Colorado’s groundbreaking medical marijuana laws and regulations. Cook will serve as KIND’s ‘Special Advisor on Government Matters.’   He stated, “It is an honor to advise KIND Government Solutions as it helps governments tackle the issue of cannabis compliance.  As a regulatory expert in the legal cannabis industry, I have chosen KIND Government Solutions as my preferred choice for track and trace solutions.  In my opinion, their technology offers the most advanced software solution available and it provides government with critical tools to ensure transparency and accountability, which is imperative for government agencies managing a successful cannabis program.”

Kimberly Nelson, the Executive Director of the U.S. Public Sector’s State and Local Government Solutions team, which is in charge of developing better online policies said in the press statement that KIND’s strong knowledge and expertise about the marijuana industry and  Microsoft Azure cloud’s high-tech technology made for a strong alliance. She further added that KIND believed Azure to be the only cloud service designed to meet government standards for the closely regulated cannabis compliance programs and will greatly help the government launch successful regulatory programs.

This joint effort comes after many new users especially adolescents started joining the high club. According to 2016’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of drug use and attitudes among American 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, marijuana use remains steady.

Contrarily, according to a new survey the number of American adolescents with marijuana-related issues is declining as more US states legalize the drug. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine examined drug use data of more than 216,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 across all 50 US states. The number of adolescents becoming dependent on cannabis, having school or relationship issues has dropped by 24 per cent between 2002 to 2013. Moreover, the survey found the rate of marijuana use by teenagers has dropped despite more states legalizing the drug. Between 2002 and 2013, the number of 12 to 17-year-olds having used marijuana in the last 12 months dropped by 10 per cent.

About KIND Financial, the Marijuana Startup

KIND Financial is a tech startup aimed at making marijuana compliance easier by supplying scientific tools and expert techniques that emancipate businesses to transact safely and securely while complying with the rules, regulations, laws and guidelines powering the cannabis industry

KIND makes use of its state-of-the-art ‘Seed to Sale’ software that enables smooth tracking of the growing process, from its cultivation, manufacturing to point-of-sales procedures. Agrisoft, an automated cash collection machine for cannabis businesses, seamlessly integrates with the KIND Kiosk. Agrisoft provides KIND with safe and secure cash management and order placement at the point-of-sale terminals. The KIND technology ecosystem platform provides cannabis businesses with an end-to-end solution that smoothly integrates cannabis businesses, regulatory agencies, and financial institutions.

KIND Government Solutions is KIND’s division tailored for government organizations. Their purpose is to provide technology for cannabis tracking to government offices and policy makers. KIND’s Seed to Sale software for government is such an example. The software includes the tools government agencies need to monitor and control all aspects of the cannabis business life-cycle including plant management, point-of-sale transactions and monetary reporting.

It is expected that after Microsoft’s decision more and more tech companies will follow suit and support the booming marijuana industry.