Marijuana Apps are under fire!!
Marijuana apps have come under fire over the past year as Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play have imposed restrictions on cannabis related apps.
Contradictory state and federal laws coupled with a lack of clear guidelines regarding cannabis apps have created hurdles for a number of start-up companies including High There (Tinder for stoners), MassRoots (Facebook for stoners), WeedMaps (Yelp for stoners), Leafly (Zagat for stoners), Nuggle (yet another Tinder for stoners), Eaze (a delivery service backed by Snoop Dog, seriously), Nestdrop (delivery service), Loud Cannabis (a grower-to-customer utility), Whaxy (a dispensary pre-order service), and even a game called Weed Firm (you guessed it, Farmville for stoners).
In January, the National Cannabis Industry Association and dozens of marijuana businesses wrote a letter to Apple, urging them to loosen restrictions on marijuana apps.
"We are not asking for Apple to endorse cannabis-related applications or their content," the letter reads. "We are simply requesting that Apple's customers have the right to download marijuana Apps if they so choose."
Meanwhile, MassRoots spearheaded a petition to reevaluate cannabis app guidelines after they themselves were removed from the App Store, which has much stricter regulations than Google Play.
"We're a social network for cannabis that enables people to talk about the plant in ways most people don't feel comfortable on other social networks," Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots, (http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/weed-apps-are-dazed-and-confused-over-apples-unpredictable-policies-162385) told Adweek in January. "I don't want grandma to see me taking bong rips on Facebook."
With fewer than 1500 signatures, the petition was sent to Apple, and in February, the App Store announced that they had changed their guidelines to allow marijuana apps in the 23 states that have legal or medicinal cannabis.
However, guidelines remain ambiguous. Apple states that apps must “comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users,” which is complicated by conflicting state and federal marijuana laws.
Similarly, Google's Play store says: “Keep it legal. Don't engage in unlawful activities on this product, such as the sale of prescription drugs without a prescription.”
Developers and app stores have come to an awkward compromise for the time being, but as noted by High There founder and former hash oil maker at O.penVAPE, Todd Mitchem, cannabis apps have a market of over 12 million cannabis enthusiasts and a lucrative niche audience to the tune of (http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2015/01/15/peter_thiel_and_marijuana_tech_giants_across_the_country_have_spent_over.html) more than $100 million in venture capital last year.
Despite the legal ambiguities, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that we’ll be seeing many more marijuana apps becoming available in the not-too-distant future.