Lifestyle

Google is banning marijuana sales in its mobile app store

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The ease of using apps like “Eaze” could be no more for Android users.

In a policy update announced Wednesday, the company stated its mobile app store, Google Play, would no longer “allow apps that facilitate the sale of marijuana or marijuana products, regardless of legality.” Notably, the mention of marijuana in the company’s policy didn’t exist before.

This could mean that cannabis delivery service apps, like the aforementioned “Eaze” and product locators like “Weedmaps” could be off the table for some users. That doesn’t mean they’ll be removed entirely from the app store. As Android Police initially reported, it’s likely that the apps will remain – but their ordering functions will be removed.

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It’s not as clear what the fate will be for the more promotional weed apps out there, like social networking platform “Massroots” or weed-centric dating app, “High There!” Yet, it’s likely they won’t be vetted in the same way. The new policy describes common violations in the realm of purchasing, delivering, or overseeing product sales.

Google

This change comes in the wake of an FTC complaint last December regarding kids’ use of the app store. A coalition of 22 consumer and public health advocacy groups requested to investigate the kids’ apps on Google Play under the suspicion that not enough protection was in place. TechCrunch says a closer look revealed ads that were “difficult to exit,” promoted “alcohol and gambling,” or included “graphic, sexualized images.” There was no mention of cannabis.

“At Google Play, we’re committed to providing a positive, safe environment for children and families,” Google said in a blog post. “We are asking every developer to thoughtfully consider whether children are part of your target audience.”

At this time, Apple allows marijuana-related sales apps in their App Store, but has banned apps of their nature in the past. In 2015, the ban was lifted.

That said, both can be accessed via Internet browser just fine, making the issue more of an inconvenience than anything. Still, it’s another casualty in the war waged on how weed is promoted and policed. Facebook also recently shared its artificial intelligence technology that can discern images of marijuana against similar objects like broccoli. The company continues to prohibit commercial advertising for marijuana companies.

Have comments on this story or questions about cannabis? Send inquiries and tips to amanda.bartlett@sfchronicle.com