Apple’s corporate attitude toward cannabis is definitely changing with the removal of its long‑time ban on hosting cannabis companies on its App Store. The cannabis delivery service Eaze — the nation’s largest such provider with over two million users — has released an all-new app that allows customers to seamlessly complete all required steps on their iPhone: register, verify identification, select products, pay, and receive a receipt.
This represents a major milestone for the legal cannabis market and its consumers, as it brings the relationship between the cannabis industry and Silicon Valley closer than ever. Eaze believes Apple’s decision was influenced by continuing legalization around the country, as well as by Amazon’s recent announcement that it will no longer be drug testing workers for cannabis (which Apple does not do.)
There are, of course, some rules to follow. Apple’s new policy states:
“Apps that encourage consumption of tobacco and vape products, illegal drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol are not permitted on the App Store. Apps that encourage minors to consume any of these substances will be rejected. Facilitating the sale of controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies and licensed or otherwise legal cannabis dispensaries), or tobacco is not allowed.” Apple also adds that “Apps that facilitate the legal sale of cannabis must be geo-restricted to the corresponding legal jurisdiction.”
In addition, such apps can only be submitted by licensed delivery services, not independent developers. This was not a problem for Eaze, which created its app using in-house programmers in just three weeks.
Yet the news is not so promising for users of Android phones. Google explicitly prohibits apps in its Google Play store that connect users with cannabis — regardless of whether or not it is legal where the customer lives. In fact, Google specifically calls out “allowing users to order marijuana through an in-app shopping cart feature” and “assisting users in arranging delivery or pick up of marijuana.” To date, parent company Alphabet has not shown any inclination to change policy. One other major tech player is also loosening its rules, albeit just a little. Although still prohibiting all advertising for cannabis products regardless of legality under state law, Facebook has relaxed its outright ban on CBD products. Advertisers can now run ads that link to landing pages featuring ingestible hemp and topical CBD — although the ads cannot specifically feature those products. These remaining barriers are likely to fall over time, bringing cannabis completely in line with alcohol, pharma and other highly-regulated areas.