Microsoft made some tech industry-sized waves this week with the announcement that it's diving into the marijuana business. Before you get too excited, don't expect to find any Windows 10 Kush in your next purchase of Microsoft Office.
Nonetheless, the $290 billion multinational "broke the corporate taboo on pot," as the New York Times put it, announcing a partnership with Los Angeles startup Kind Financials, a jack-of-all-trades company offering a range of products that includes vending-machine style marijuana kiosks. But Kind also has built track-and-trace software that it's marketing to state and local governments that are busily crafting compliance systems for their new legal weed industries, whether they be medical or recreational.
Under the partnership, Microsoft will now be offering this "seed-to-sale" tracking software with its cloud-based Azure Government, an eight-piece suite of software the tech giant offers to local and state governments. It may seem like a baby step into the weed industry, but the mere fact that one of the world's biggest companies is willing to tie its name to the cannabis industry speaks volumes about how far national acceptance of marijuana has come in the last decade. Can iPot be far behind?
In another sign of marijuana's steady encroachment on the mainstream, California's largest political party officially endorsed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the November initiative that would legalize recreational use in the Golden State. If the California Democratic Party's endorsement sounds shrug-worthy, consider that it was only six years ago that the party declined to support Proposition 19, the state's last recreational legalization effort.
Throw in statewide polls showing 60 percent of likely voters supporting the measure, plus endorsements from the ACLU and the NAACP, and there's reason to hope California will begin to unravel what's been a dismal failure of a drug policy, not to mention 20 years of the Compassionate Use Act, which brought relief to some very sick people but made hypocrites out of entire communities. But before you start rolling that Cheech and Chong sized victory joint, a word of caution: Polls in April of 2010 showed 56 percent of likely voters supporting Proposition 19, which ultimately only garnered 46.5 percent of the vote.
Two of the most famous names in marijuana culture are now being sold together. Marley Natural, the Bob-Marley-family-approved, private equity funded bud brand, is now stocking Bay Area dispensaries with cannabis products made from organic Humboldt County crops, according to NBC Bay Area.
Marley Natural's buds will come from an unnamed Humboldt County collective and are sun-grown and organic, according to the company, which didn't respond to Journal emails seeking comment for this story. While some might celebrate the prospect of Humboldt's finest being folded under the Marley name, it raises the question: Just what are we producing here in the Emerald Triangle, a commodity or a luxury product? Or, put a different way, are we growing the coffee beans that wind up in the cans of Folgers that retail for $4.50 or the bean that hails from the Jamaican Blue Mountains or Kona, Hawaii, and retail for $40 a half pound?
If Humboldt wants to keep the name that continues to raise eyebrows the world over, the name that continues to fetch a luxury price, it seems selling out to a big brand shouldn't be the preferred route. At the very least, Marley Natural: Humboldt Grown should be the label and one shouldn't have to pore through the fine print to find reference of some unnamed Humboldt collective.