Microsoft just announced that it is partnering with KIND Financial, a company that specializes in services to the marijuana industry. (Photo by Seth McConnell/The Denver Post)

Did Microsoft just jump into the marijuana business?

Microsoft, the multibillion-dollar tech behemoth and third most valuable company in the world, is getting into the marijuana business — sort of.

On Thursday, Microsoft and a company called KIND Financial announced a partnership to help governments track regulated marijuana production from seed-to-sale. The Los Angeles-based KIND, which specializes in services to the marijuana industry, already offers tracking software in the form of its Agrisoft Seed to Sale program. Microsoft selected a new KIND entity, KIND Government Solutions, to participate in Microsoft’s cloud-based Health and Human Services Pod for Managed Service Providers.

The two companies will now compete for contracts from governments looking to do seed-to-sale regulation of their burgeoning marijuana industries. Matt Cook, the former Colorado Department of Revenue senior official who wrote some of the first government regulations in the country for medical marijuana businesses, will work as a “special adviser on government matters” to KIND.

“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,” Cook said in a statement provided by KIND.

The new venture comes just after marijuana reform reached a tipping point across the country. Earlier this month, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio signed a bill that made his state the 25th to authorize a legal medical marijuana program. More than half the people in America now live in a state where some form of marijuana is legal under state law, though cannabis remains illegal for nearly all purposes under federal law.

“No one can predict the future of cannabis legalization,” David Dinenberg, KIND Financial’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “However, it is clear that legalized cannabis will always be subject to strict oversight and regulations similar to alcohol and tobacco, and KIND is proud to offer governments and regulatory agencies the tools and technology to monitor cannabis compliance.”

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