Google Preparing to Work With the Cannabis Industry?

By Omar Sacirbey

Is global technology giant Google the latest major U.S. corporation to kick the tires of the marijuana industry?

It could be. Signs suggest the Mountain View, California-based company is exploring the opportunity to work with cannabis businesses.

An executive with Colorado-based LivWell Enlightened Health – one of the largest marijuana retail chains in the country – recently disclosed Google’s interest in the industry at an event for Congressman Jared Polis, a longtime supporter of the cannabis sector.

LivWell CEO John Lord told the audience that Google recently contacted him to see how it could help serve the industry.

According to Lord, Google reached out soon after Los Angeles-based Kind Financial announced last month that it has partnered with software giant Microsoft to offer seed-to-sale tracking systems for governments to keep track of marijuana commerce.

Lord made the comments at an event hosted by the infused products company Dixie Brands to support Polis.

A LivWell spokesman confirmed the Google contact in a subsequent email to Marijuana Business Daily.

“I can confirm that Google did reach out and ask if we would be interested in speaking with them about the industry’s needs and how Google could potentially work with us to address them,” Matthew Givner, a LivWell spokesman, wrote in an email. “Beyond that there has been no communication.”

Google didn’t respond to requests for comment. It’s unclear if the tech giant has been in contact with other marijuana-related companies, why it reached out to LivWell specifically and what type of involvement it could have in the industry.

If Google were to become involved in the cannabis industry it would join a small but growing number of big corporations including Microsoft and Arrow Electronics, a Fortune 150 company that provides electronic components and services. Both have recently disclosed that they are working with cannabis-related companies.

To have a company the size and visibility of Google looking into the cannabis industry would provide a tremendous boost to marijuana businesses, according to one industry analyst.

And, in LivWell’s case, the company actually sells recreational and medical marijuana – unlike the two marijuana-related firms teamed with Microsoft and Arrow. Those two ancillary businesses don’t “touch” the marijuana plant but instead provide cannabis-related services and products.

“Any time a gigantic corporation gets involved with a company that touches, that’s phenomenal,” California-based industry consultant Avis Bulbulyan said. “The more companies, the bigger the companies, the better it is for the industry.”

LivWell, which is headquartered in the Denver metro area, is one of the biggest marijuana retailers in Colorado, operating 14 shops around the state. It also has two cultivation sites. The company was founded in 2009.

Google’s parent, Alphabet Inc., ranks 36 on the Fortune 500 and employs more than 60,000 people. Its annual revenues total more than $70 billion.

Google is the parent company’s core unit, and is well known for web-based search, its lucrative advertising business, the Android mobile operating system, and the YouTube video network.

Google’s advertising services would be among the services that cannabis companies might find helpful.

Bulbulyan said that if Google is serious about reaching out to the cannabis industry it would certainly encourage other companies to do the same. “This will open doors for other companies to get involved,” he added

It may even reduce “cannaphobia” among big companies like Facebook and Instagram, Bulbulyan noted. Both have shut down cannabis accounts.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft was the first major corporation to publicly disclose its involvement in the marijuana industry.

Less than a week later, MyDx – a San Diego maker of handheld chemical analyzers that allow consumers to check the potency of marijuana strains – announced that Arrow Electronics will help manufacture its line of analyzers.

While Microsoft and Arrow are partnering with specific companies, Bulbulyan wasn’t sure why Google would get involved with any one company, and speculated that its contact with LivWell was more out of a desire to help the industry.

Omar Sacirbey can be reached at [email protected]

11 comments on “Google Preparing to Work With the Cannabis Industry?
  1. Snowdog on

    Hey Google, you don’t need to call Colorado to figure out the basics:

    1) Stop prohibiting MJ Adwords
    2) Stop metering MJ site indexing
    3) Stop censoring MJ search results
    4) Open all partner networks and services to MJ
    5) Use your scope, scale and development power for good, not profit.

    Reply
  2. david on

    wow letting big business in is like letting the same people who run america to have even more control. how about less corporation involvement and more people to be less needy of the governments. the people can do it without government control and regulation when the typical poor guy who wants to jump in has no oppurtunity. family business defeated again. here come marijuana walmart. good bye family business unless your rich or backed by big corporations. hum.

    Reply
  3. Matt on

    Google is probably the most progressive company in the world…and you should want them to be a part of any industry you want to see grow (no pun intended). Quite frankly, the small business man approach to marijuana will end up similar to alcohol most likely…you have the giants and then you have the small producers which both see sales. It’s better for the industry, and better for future regulatory needs whenever rescheduling actually occurs. Once they start selling bongs, we’ll have an all new meaning of google glass (pun intended).

    Reply
  4. Thomas on

    Google forbids all cannabis-related businesses from using full versions of tools like Google Analytics, which are standard across many other industries.

    It would be *huge* for our industry to be able to use Google’s data analysis and reporting tools, even aside from allowing cannabis keyword or brand advertising which seems very unlikely.

    Reply
  5. Brandon on

    It’s not greed….. Google has a great advertising platform which can provide great traffic and positive ROIs for companies not looking to invest in a long-term online marketing plan. Instead of trying to compete for traffic you can pay for it.

    There’s pro’s and con’s to ppc ads but when used properly they can be very effective. I have used adsense with cloakers in the past selling smoking items and the return is great. Adsense provides a lot of control of where/ who your ad is displayed to.

    Reply
  6. Avis Bulbulyan on

    How is it a bad thing for a company the size of Google to start servicing the industry? People complain about having their accounts shut down, but when the same company that’s doing the shutting down decides to look at the industry and start accepting it, people complain about it turning into big business. Google is a platform that companies can use to build their brand, why in the world would you not want them to participate? Same for Microsoft or any of the other big companies. Times are changing and it’s not realistic to think that the industry won’t. Companies need to adapt and evolve if they want to survive or have market share in a couple of years. We’re getting to a point where we have really big companies within the industry that are now positioning themselves to acquire smaller players. That’s already happening and it has nothing to do with the big bad corporations jumping in. A lot of companies are setting up and already planning their exit long before they even plant the first seed.

    Reply
  7. Kerry on

    People- Just because you read it on-line doesn’t mean it actually happened. My automated “Local Google Agent, Sharon” reaches out to me and my business about once a month. I think this is a HUGE exaggeration, otherwise Google would have something to say about. As it is, they couldn’t be bothered to return a phone call.

    Reply
  8. trevorcorey on

    Once again, we see people’s rights being stolen out from under them, and sold back to them, for the sake of profit & tax revenue.

    Marijuana is a flower that ANYBODY can grow for themselves…it doesn’t need to be tracked from “seed to sale”, tested for potency, sold in special stores, etc.

    If the government wants to set regulations, let them apply them to the extracts and edibles market…that stuff needs to be regulated, for safety…but regulating flowers is a waste of time.

    Reply

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