Does That Cloud Smell Like Burning Rope?

Does That Cloud Smell Like Burning Rope?

When we report on the rise in Cloud Computing it is easy to focus on the bold moves that entrepreneurs are making, and the innovation and technical wonder that goes into producing unbelievably gargantuan server centers. It is not uncommon to forget the experience of the tech workers down in the trenches, the ones who spend their working lives focused on their screens, furiously tapping away at their keyboards, keeping the Cloud doing what the peace-cafeCloud does.

What does it take to deal with such intense, day in day out time working immersed in the virtual world? According to recent reports, more and more Silicon Valley employees are turning to “herbal help”. It should come as little surprise that marijuana is popular in the San Jose area, given Silicon Valley’s relative proximity to San Francisco and Haight-Ashbury. There may be a generational difference between denizens of Silicon Valley and the Hippies of the Haight, but the cultural ties are there.

What is different is the growing acceptance of marijuana as medication. It is a difficult to say whether the appeal is therapeutic or recreational. However, there are more than 100 medical marijuana dispensaries in San Jose, many within blocks of Cisco Systems, Google, Adobe Systems, Apple, and eBay. The pot stores report that as much as 40% of their customer base is in the tech industry.

The tech giants are not pleased with the thought of their workers being stoned, of course. Both Cisco and Adobe have strong company policies against workers using drugs, but neither company screens applicants for drug use. Reportedly, companies are finding it more difficult to find candidates who can pass a pre employment drug test.

As interesting as the alleged high incidence of marijuana use among tech workers is, the medical marijuana industry in San Jose and elsewhere is far from a sure thing. The “industry” received a serious shot in the arm in 2009 when the Obama administration announced that it would not prosecute medical marijuana related cases. However, the “industry” is still run by, well, potheads.

Silicon Valley investors are beginning to see potential in the industry, however. The founders of Privateer Holdings have experience appraising ventures like the Tesla and Fisker electric cars and Groupon. The group is now raising funds, including some crowd-sourcing, to help finance legitimate marijuana enterprises.

By Peter Knight

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