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微软涉足大麻产业,打破大企业“叶子”禁忌

更新时间:2016-6-18 7:24:09 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The First Big Company to Say It’s Serving the Legal Marijuana Trade? Microsoft.
微软涉足大麻产业,打破大企业“叶子”禁忌

As state after state has legalized marijuana in one way or another, big names in corporate America have stayed away entirely. Marijuana, after all, is still illegal, according to the federal government.

尽管以这种或那种方式实现大麻合法化的州一个接一个地出现,美国的大牌企业依旧对大麻敬而远之。毕竟,根据联邦政府的规定,它依旧是非法的。

But Microsoft is breaking the corporate taboo on pot this week by announcing a partnership to begin offering software that tracks marijuana plants from “seed to sale,” as the pot industry puts it.

但微软(Microsoft)正在打破企业界对“叶子”的禁忌。该公司于本周宣布了一个合作项目,将开始提供相关的大麻监控软件,用这个行业的话说, 进行“从种子到销售”的全程追踪。

The software — a new product in Microsoft’s cloud computing business — is meant to help states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana keep tabs on sales and commerce, ensuring that they remain in the daylight of legality.

这款软件是微软云计算业务部门的新产品,旨在帮助已经实现医用或娱乐用大麻合法化的州严密追踪大麻的销售与贸易,确保相关运作处于法律的阳光之下。

But until now, even that boring part of the pot world was too controversial for mainstream companies. It is apparent now, though, that the legalization train is not slowing down: This fall, at least five states, including the biggest of them all — California — will vote on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

但直到现在,即便是“叶子”世界中这一最平淡的部分,对主流企业而言也太具争议性。不过,大麻合法化的列车目前显然并未减速:今年秋天,至少有五个州——它们中最大的是加州——将投票决定是否让娱乐用大麻合法化。

So far, only a handful of smaller banks are willing to offer accounts to companies that grow or sell marijuana, and Microsoft will not be touching that part of the business. But the company’s entry into the government compliance side of the business suggests the beginning of a legitimate infrastructure for an industry that has been growing fast and attracting lots of attention, both good and bad.

迄今为止,只有少数小银行愿意为种植或销售大麻的企业开立户头,而微软不会涉及那些业务。但该公司从政府合规领域切入大麻业,意味着一个增长迅猛、吸引了大量正面和负面关注的行业,开始进行有助于引导其走上合法合规之路的基础建设。

“We do think there will be significant growth,” said Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft. “As the industry is regulated, there will be more transactions, and we believe there will be more sophisticated requirements and tools down the road.”

“我们确信会有大幅增长,”微软的州及地方政务解决方案部门的执行董事金伯利·纳尔逊(Kimberly Nelson)说。“在这一行业受到监管的同时,交易量会变大;我们认为在此过程中会出现更为复杂的要求和工具。”

Microsoft’s baby step into the business came through an announcement on Thursday that it was teaming up with a Los Angeles startup, Kind, that built the software the tech giant will begin marketing. Kind — one of many small companies trying to take the marijuana business mainstream — offers a range of products, including ATM-style kiosks that facilitate marijuana sales, working through some of the state-chartered banks that are comfortable with such customers.

微软在周四宣布了试水大麻业的消息。这家科技巨擘称其正与洛杉矶初创企业Kind合作,即将着手推广后者开发的这款软件。许多小企业都在尝试把大麻生意带上更加主流的道路,Kind便是其中之一。它推出了一系列产品,其中包括让大麻销售变得更加便利的ATM式贩售机,其运行以一些愿意跟这类客户打交道的州立银行为依托。

Microsoft will not be getting anywhere near these kiosks or the actual plants. Rather, it will be working with Kind’s “government solutions” division, offering software only to state and local governments that are trying to build compliance systems.

微软不会与这些贩售机或实体的大麻植物产生交集。而是要跟Kind的“政务解决方案”部门合作,为正在竭力打造合规体系的州及地方政府提供软件。

But for the young and eager legalized weed industry, Microsoft’s willingness to attach its name to any part of the business is a big step forward.

但对年轻而情绪高涨的合法大麻业而言,不论微软愿意让自己的名号与这一产业的哪个部分发生关联,都是往前迈了一大步。

“Nobody has really come out of the closet, if you will,” said Matthew A. Karnes, the founder of Green Wave Advisors, which provides data and analysis of the marijuana business. “It’s very telling that a company of this caliber is taking the risk of coming out and engaging with a company that is focused on the cannabis business.”

“可以这么说吧,还没有人真的从柜中走出来,”提供大麻业务相关数据和分析的绿浪咨询公司(Green Wave Advisors)创始人马修·A·卡恩斯(Matthew A. Karnes)说。“一家如此级别的企业正冒着风险走出来,跟一家致力于大麻业务的企业建立联系,这很能说明问题。”

David Dinenberg, founder and chief executive of Kind, said it had taken a long time — and a lot of courting of big-name companies — to persuade the first one to get on board.

Kind创始人及首席执行官大卫·迪南伯格(David Dinenberg)说,在花费了很长时间,并向许多大牌企业抛出橄榄枝之后,Kind终于说服了第一家大企业入伙。

“Every business that works in the cannabis space, we all clamor for legitimacy,” said Dinenberg, a former real estate developer in Philadelphia who moved to California to start Kind. “I would like to think that this is the first of many dominoes to fall.”

“我们大麻行业内的每一家企业,全都急迫地想要获得合法性,”迪南伯格说。“我觉得这是第一张倒下的多米诺骨牌”。迪南伯格曾是费城的房地产开发商,后来搬到加利福尼亚,创办了Kind。

It’s hard to know if other corporate giants have provided their services in more quiet ways to cannabis purveyors. New York state, for instance, has said it is working with Oracle to track medicinal marijuana patients. But there appears to be little precedent for a big company advertising its work in the space. It is still possible — though considered unlikely — that the federal government could decide to crack down on the legalization movement in the states.

现在很难知道其他大企业是否正以不那么引人注目的方式为大麻供应商提供服务。例如,纽约州曾经表示,正与甲骨文(Oracle)合作,追踪使用医用大麻的病人。但目前似乎基本没有哪家大公司公开宣称自己涉足了这个行业的哪项业务。还存在一种可能性——尽管被认为不大靠谱:联邦政府可能决定打压各州的大麻合法化运动。

Stores that sell pot have been particularly hobbled by the unwillingness of banks to deal with the money flowing through the industry. Many dispensaries have been forced to rely on cash for all transactions, or looked to startups like Kind, with its kiosks that take payments inside dispensaries.

银行不愿处理流经大麻业的资金,使得出售大麻的店铺尤为举步维艰。许多药房不得不以现金结算所有交易,或者仰仗Kind这类初创企业。使用Kind的贩售机,可以在药房内付款。

Governments, too, have generally been relying on smaller startups to help develop technology that can track marijuana plants and sales. A Florida software company, BioTrackTHC, is helping Washington state, New Mexico and Illinois monitor the marijuana trade inside their states.

政府部门也基本在依靠小型初创企业帮助开发可以追踪大麻植物和销售情况的技术。佛罗里达州的软件公司BioTrackTHC正帮助华盛顿州、新墨西哥州和伊利诺伊州监控州内的大麻贸易。

Kind has no state contracts. But it has already applied, with Microsoft, to provide its software to Puerto Rico, which legalized marijuana for medical purposes earlier this year.

Kind手上没有政府合约。但它已经和微软一起申请,要为波多黎各提供软件。波多黎各于今年早些时候实现了医用大麻合法化。

Twenty-five states have now legalized marijuana in some form or another, with Pennsylvania and Ohio the most recent. The biggest business opportunity, though, will come from states that allow recreational use of the drug, as Colorado, Oregon and Washington already do.

目前共有25个州以这样或那样的形式实现了大麻合法化,最新加入该阵营的是宾夕法尼亚州和俄亥俄州。不过,最大的商业机会将来自像科罗拉多州、俄勒冈州和华盛顿州一样让娱乐用大麻合法化的州。

This fall, five states — including, most significantly, California — will vote on whether to join that club.

今年秋天,将有五个州——包括最引人瞩目的加利福尼亚州——就是否加入这一俱乐部进行投票。

Karnes, the analyst, said he expected legal marijuana sales to jump to $6.5 billion this year, from $4.8 billion last year. He says that number could climb to $25 billion by the year 2020 if California voters approve the recreational measure this year, as is widely expected.

分析师卡恩斯预计,合法的大麻销售收入会从去年的48亿美元猛增至今年的65亿美元。他说,如果加州选民今年如外界普遍预期的那样投票通过娱乐用大麻合法化议案,到2020年,这一数字可能会上升至250亿美元。

The opening up of the market in California is already leading to a scramble for the big money that is likely to follow, and Microsoft will now be well placed to get in on the action.

加州市场的开放正在引发对可能出现的大笔利润的争夺,而微软已经为加入战团占据了有利地位。

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