Forget Big Pharma and Big Tobacco. Microsoft is getting into the weed game. KIND Financial, a Los Angeles-based cannabis compliance software company, announced yesterday that it is partnering with Microsoft to launch a seed-to-sale tracking program. Given the nascent state of the seed-to-sale traceability software industry, we may be witnessing the birth of its proverbial 800-pound gorilla.
KIND also hired one of the founding fathers of cannabis traceability to handle its governmental relations: Matt Cook, formerly a senior leader for Colorado's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division and an author of many of its medical marijuana laws and regulations.
Washington's chosen seed-to-sale software, BioTrackTHC, is generally regarded by the industry as a colossal pain in the ass—inflexible, slow, and buggier than a swamp in July. Indeed, Mindon Win, compliance manager for botanicaSEATTLE, devoted his entire submission for our 2015 Regrets issue to his BioTrack-based frustrations. Reached for comment today, he reiterated his position.
"I'm not a huge fan," he said. "I'm glad the state was able to provide a platform but I see it less as a tool and more as another complication in an already complicated industry. I cannot count the times when we have had to put work on full stop to troubleshoot BioTrack. Everything from scheduling deliveries to tracking inventory can be complicated by intentional and unintentional BioTrack functions."
Traceability is one of the eight pillars of the Cole memo, the US Department of Justice's guidelines for legal states on how to avoid federal intervention, and maintaining it is a major daily activity for cannabis businesses. Win was optimistic about the potential of KIND's new software, which is based on Azure Government, Microsoft's government-specific cloud platform, to remove some of the headache from that process.
"I haven't delved into it yet," he said, "but I think any company will have an advantage in traceability if they have the means to make something efficient and they are responsive enough to constantly update and refine the programs." It's not a stretch to say that Microsoft has those means.
Marijuana Prohibitionist Resigns After Insensitive Orlando Tweet
Randy Philbrick, the leader of the Oregon chapter of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), stepped down today in the aftermath of a stupendously insensitive tweet regarding the Orlando massacre.
The tweet has, like Philbrick's affiliation with the group, been deleted, but it was posted in response to Rep. Earl Blumenauer's (D-OR) offer of condolences to victims of the shooting and read thusly:
"@repblumenauer you can't support 1 threat to public health/public safety and then condemn another. You have failed this state."
Obviously, the backlash was swift and furious. Even Blumenauer had some fire to spit:
These days, it's hard not to see pot prohibitionism as anything less than distasteful, given the severely racist impact of the drug war, and this is another good reminder that distasteful views tend to travel in packs.
Kohl-Welles Vows County Ordinance on Pesticide Enforcement
At a King County Council Briefing on pesticides use in cannabis yesterday, Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who has a long track record of medical marijuana advocacy during her time as a state senator, announced that she was drafting an ordinance to expand the county's role in pesticide enforcement. The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) recently passed draft rules on pesticide action levels and recall procedures, but Kohl-Welles said that she still saw a need for increased enforcement.
Though the WSLCB has established clearer rules on what constitutes a violation of pesticide rules, Kohl-Welles said she was still concerned that they weren't proactively enforcing the rules. Rick Garza, the WSLCB's director, announced recently at a meeting of the Cannabis Alliance that the agency would be partnering with the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) to perform random testing on cannabis, but the details of that program have yet to emerge. Apparently, Kohl-Welles is tired of waiting.
"I kept relying on the Liquor and Cannabis board to do what it should do and it hasn't," she said, noting that, while the county has to defer to state law, it's free to enforce it more vigorously. "We can do enforcement. We can establish the codes and terms of actual enforcement."
Kohl-Welles isn't the only one whose patience with the slow pace of regulation has run out: Peter Saladino, the head of BMF Washington, one of Washington’s largest cannabis producers that was investigated for the illegal use of prohibited pesticides, recently announced the "BMF Manifesto"—the company's pledge to do mandatory testing for all BMF products and all sourced material from suppliers. To ensure transparency, that info will then be posted to an online database that allows consumers to look up results using the lot numbers on their packages.
"The Manifesto establishes a gold standard—far beyond state requirements—for safety, quality and transparency through real, actionable steps," reads the landing page. Ironically, it's kinda true. Because BMF has such a bulky market share, and can throw that bulk around without voting and holding public hearings and going through the whole regulatory rigamarole, they may be able to effect more reform than the government watchdogs.
"It can happen," said Kohl-Welles, speaking about such self-policing schemes, but she was still skeptical. "I was in the legislature for a long time and of course that was the mantra of business." Clifton Curry, senior principal legislative analyst for the King County Council and one of the principal authors of Kohl-Welles' ordinance, concurred, saying that while such efforts were always appreciated, they still involve the fox watching the henhouse.
"Trust but verify," he cautioned.
The NFL Sucks
In this latest bit of bad news in the ongoing feud between the NFL and medical cannabis, Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle and noted medical marijuana advocate Eugene Monroe has been released by his team. Months ago, Monroe had come forward to advocate for medical marijuana therapy for NFL players and had recently donated $80,000 for medical cannabis research.