Google has added a rule banning apps that “facilitate” the sale of marijuana — whether they’re operating legally or not — but the company says it’s not trying to drive pot-related services off the Google Play Store. Android Police noted the change earlier today, speculating that it might spell trouble for the popular weed-finding apps Eaze and Weedmaps. Google tells The Verge that it’s working with developers to make their apps compliant with the new rules, rather than trying to ban them from the Play Store altogether.
Android apps can apparently still promote pot, but they’re not allowed to offer an “in-app shopping cart feature” to assist with “arranging delivery or pick up of marijuana” or to otherwise “facilitate the sale of marijuana or marijuana products, regardless of legality.”
In a statement to The Verge, Google described the changes as less sweeping than that language suggests. “These apps simply need to move the shopping cart flow outside of the app itself to be compliant with this new policy,” said a 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.”
Apple’s App Store already bans “facilitating the sale of marijuana, tobacco, or controlled substances” or “encourag[ing] consumption of tobacco products, illegal drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol” through apps. This has led it to ban marijuana-related apps in the past, although it’s eased up since then. Weedmaps and Eaze both operate on iOS, but they don’t offer in-app ordering.
Android Police ties Google’s new policy to an overall push for a more kid-friendly Play Store. If the key issue is shopping carts, though, it may be more of a way to get around processing payments for pot, which is still illegal at a federal level, even as a growing number of states allow it.
A spokesperson from Eaze responded to the news with disappointment. “In California, and many other markets across the nation, lawmakers have established clear cannabis laws and regulations. Eaze connects adults only to licensed, regulated cannabis retailers,” reads a statement sent to The Verge. “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.”
Update 6PM ET: Added statement from Eaze.
Read more from the source: TheVerge.com
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge