Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jun 2016
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2016 North Coast Journal
Author: Thadeus Greenson


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.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom