Google has gone out of it’s way once again to alienate the legal marijuana industry by amending the Play Store policy to prohibit cannabis apps with a shopping cart feature. The decision was announced on Wednesday, much to the dismay of companies like Weedmaps and Eaze who will now have to remove this functionality to remain active for android users.
The new rule specifies new Play Store guidelines saying it does not “allow apps that facilitate the sale of marijuana or marijuana products, regardless of legality.” The policy even outlines some examples of common violations listed below:
Allowing users to order marijuana through an in-app shopping cart feature.
Assisting users in arranging delivery or pick up of marijuana.
Facilitating the sale of products containing THC.
A spokesperson from Google did however offer a simple solution for cannabis apps so they aren’t removed from the Play Store entirely. “These apps simply need to move the shopping cart flow outside of the app itself to be compliant with this new policy. 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.”
Despite this policy change Google acknowledged the popularity of cannabis apps and wants to continue hosting them in the Play Store under the new rules. Google is working directly with developers of the cannabis apps affected by the change, the spokesperson noted. The tech giant recently announced that they would be making several changes to the Play Store to make it “a positive, safe environment for children and families.”
This change comes on the heels of an FTC complaint involving the Google Play Store and it’s lack of oversight in regards to vetting apps that appear in the kids section. This has also led to a policy change for apps “that facilitate the sale of tobacco (including e-cigarettes).”
Some of the major apps that are affected by the change include Weedmaps and Eaze. Currently they are still present on the Play Store but it’s expected that the ordering functionality is soon to be deactivated. Weedmaps leads the pack with more than one million downloads, and Eaze has over 50,000 user downloads.
Senior director of corporate communications for Eaze, Elizabeth Ashford, commented saying, “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.”