GlobalNewsTechnologyUSGoogle Bans Marijuana Apps on its Android Play Store

“We don't allow apps that facilitate the sale of marijuana or marijuana products, regardless of legality,” the new policy reads.
Jared Gnam Jared GnamMay 29, 20195 min

Google has banned all apps that connect users with cannabis products on its Android Play store, the tech giant announced in a policy update Wednesday.

“We don’t allow apps that facilitate the sale of marijuana or marijuana products, regardless of legality,” the new policy reads.

Apps that offer users the ability to order cannabis through an in-app shopping cart will be removed from the Google Play store—unless the app developer removes the shopping cart feature, according to a Google spokesperson via Marijuana Moment.

“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.”

— A Google spokesperson told Marijuana Moment

The amended rules also prohibit apps that assist users with delivery or pick up of marijuana and facilitate the sale of any product containing THC.

A Google spokesperson also told tech news site CNET that developers have 30 days to comply with the policy changes, while adding it “updates its policies regularly to ensure safe and positive experiences for developers and users.”

The policy change was first spotted by tech news site Android Police, who speculated it has something to do with Google trying to make its Play store more kid-friendly.

Out of the 10 states in the U.S. that have legalized cannabis, the drug is still prohibited for anyone under 21 years old—including California, where Google is headquartered. At the federal level legalization is expected to be a hot button issue ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections.

Tech rival Apple lifted its ban on marijuana-related apps in 2015, and since then have taken a more laissez-faire approach to the issue.

Policy shift may have industry implications

It’s hard to say early on if this could have implications for the cannabis industry.

Two years ago, Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE:ACB) (TSX:ACB) released an app for patients with legal medical marijuana subscriptions for both Apple and Android devices.

At the time, CEO Cam Battley said the app would give consumers the same online ordering service as Amazon.

However, the app would violate Google’s new policies on marijuana apps because orders are made with a shopping cart and the app offers delivery service.

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