Lately it seems like the tech giants of Silicon Valley are snubbing software developers who are servicing the cannabis industry. Google and Apple seem to be oblivious of the legal progress that is being made for both medical and recreational cannabis intentionally excluding cannabis apps from both the App Store and Google Play.
One California Assemblyman, Evan Low (D), has taken a stand for these tech companies who are attempting to legitimize the process and improve access for those who need it most. Assemblyman Low took it upon himself to send an official letter addressing these exclusive practices to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook.
California is home to some of the largest cannabis tech companies in the country including Weedmaps, Eaze, tökr, and Potify. State legislators have worked hard to establish the cannabis industry and it’s important for Apple to allow these companies to have access to millions of users. Low made that clear in his letter to Tim Cook that California lawmakers are, “working actively to break down barriers to lawful cannabis to ensure that consumers have access to safe cannabis products and alternatives to the black market.”
Assemblyman Low went on to say, “In light of this, Apple’s policy of prohibiting applications that facilitate cannabis sales is of serious concern” to lawmakers. “While Apple apps are permitted to facilitate the sale of alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs, including opioids. Cannabis apps are singled out for exclusion on the platform, creating a significant barrier to lawful purchases,” Low pointed out.
The letter condemns Apple’s policy specifically in terms of limiting access to disabled medical marijuana patients who rely on these applications to order their medicine. “As you know, cannabis is not only a legal right -- it is a medical necessity for millions of Californians suffering from chronic pain, AIDS, PTSD, Parkinsons, and a range of other neurological, inflammatory disorders,” he writes.
It’s clear that legislators are in favor these cannabis app developers being on the app store not only to improve access but to verify that the businesses that are listed are in fact legal. Hindering this process is by and large aiding the existence of the black market. Low mentions this saying, “The effect of Apple’s exclusionary policy is inadvertent support for illegal suppliers.”
The hope is that Tim Cook will be willing to work with California lawmakers to amend this policy and make these apps available in states where medical or recreational cannabis is legal. Whether or not Apple chooses to make this a priority is still uncertain but it seems that they fear that the federal government will intervene if they support a new billion dollar industry.