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Google bans on marijuana apps from Play Store

The Google ban extends to apps that are designed to connect people with marijuana products. The ban came into effect on May 29, following a policy update from the technology giant. The ban is not simply about apps that might lead people into dealing in illegal activities, it extends to all apps that facilitate any cannabis transactions. This includes countries and U.S. states where purchasing marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes is legal. In other words, a blanket ban.

Google states, simply: “We don’t allow apps that facilitate the sale of marijuana or marijuana products, regardless of legality.” The company goes on to provide examples of the sorts of issues that will lead to an app being banned: allowing users to order marijuana through an in-app shopping cart feature; assisting users in arranging delivery or pick up of marijuana; and facilitating the sale of products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Expanding on the reasons, a google spokesperson told Marijuana Moment why the change had been made and of what some apps can do to comply with the new policy: “These apps simply need to move the shopping cart flow outside of the app itself to be compliant with this new policy,” the spokesperson said. “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.”

As The Verge notes, the change might not be as dramatic as the headlines suggests, if the advice is followed. With Google’s main rival, the 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.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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