Google cracks down on marijuana apps on its Google Play store

Google has banned any apps that sell marijuana products from its Google Play store, the company announced. This includes apps that facilitate cannabis transactions in states where it’s legal. However, the ban may not be as strict as it sounds.

In a new policy announced on May 29th, Google says “We don't allow apps that facilitate the sale of marijuana or marijuana products, regardless of legality.” The company describes examples that could cause violations, such as “allowing users to order marijuana through an in-app shopping cart feature, assisting users in arranging delivery or pick up of marijuana,” and “facilitating the sale of products containing THC.” Previously the company did not have a written policy in regards to cannabis apps.

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A Google spokesperson told Marijuana Moment that the ban isn’t as restrictive as it sounds and that there is an easy workaround. “These apps simply need to move the shopping cart flow outside of the app itself to be compliant with this new policy,” said the spokesperson. “We’ve been in contact with many of the developers and are working with them to answer any technical questions and help them implement the changes without customer disruption.”

The spokesperson says they hope that with a workaround such as this, cannabis apps will remain in the Google Play store, as they acknowledge the popularity of such apps. As of the time of writing, plenty of marijuana apps remain on the Google Play store. Some of the best-known cannabis apps include Weedmaps and Eaze, both of which are still available on the store.

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Meanwhile, operators of some of these apps have stood up in opposition to the new rule. “Eaze connects adults only to licensed, regulated cannabis retailers,” Elizabeth Ashford, senior director of corporate communications for Eaze, said in an email to Marijuana Moment. “Google’s decision is a disappointing development that only helps the illegal market thrive, but we are confident that Google, Apple and Facebook will eventually do the right thing and allow legal cannabis companies to do business on their platforms. We regret any inconvenience this may cause for customers and patients.”

“Prohibition is over,” she added. “Voters across the country have legalized cannabis.”

(Photo courtesy of Edho Pratama via Unsplash)
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