Google Play Store Tightens Restrictions on Marijuana Apps

google play store
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Anyone who works in the marijuana industry knows how marijuana companies are treated online. From account shutdowns to flagged posts, being under a microscope is something we know all too well. Normally, a platform will take down your post without really telling you why, and that’s what makes Google’s recent policy change a little surprising.

Google updated the Google Play Developer Policy Center so there’s a specific section addressing marijuana. It now reads as follows:

google play store marijuana policy

From the policy, it sounds like Google is only banning marijuana apps that have delivery or pick-up features. In a statement to The Verge, a Google representative said: "These apps simply need to move the shopping cart flow outside of the app itself to be compliant with this new policy.”

Easy enough, right? Apps just need to remove their shopping cart features and they’re all set. But the restrictions don’t stop there. TheWeedTube, a cannabis content platform, recently announced their app was banned from the Google Play Store, and their app does not have a shopping cart feature.

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Just when we think we've done what we promised we would do, GOOGLE slaps us back down this time! Unfortunately everyone Android has suspended the app. For cannabis use. ? . . . #cannabiscommunity #cannabisbusiness #highsociety #theweedtube #theweedtubeapplaunch

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When they inquired about why it was removed, Google said the app was still in violation of their rules. Google pointed them to their “Illegal Activities” section. The section states:

google play illegal activities

This section allows Google more discretion when deciding which apps are allowed in the Google Play Store. Google previously stated in the “Marijuana” section that they wouldn’t allow the facilitation of marijuana sales, “regardless of legality,” so we can assume they’re treating marijuana as an illegal drug nationwide.

Since most marijuana-related apps have some kind of information about growing, consuming, or manufacturing marijuana, one would assume that all marijuana apps would be deleted. That’s not the case. Technically, blog content with growing tips or a dispensary map would violate these guidelines, yet there are still marijuana apps in the Google Play Store that have those features. It seems there aren’t any across-the-board rules for what is allowed and who is allowed to do it.

While the announcement that apps facilitating marijuana sales will not be allowed seemed to help clear up confusion, it’s clear that the rules don’t always apply to everyone.

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Kathleen Stock
Kathleen is a Midwest transplant with no plans to leave Colorado any time soon. She loves editing and writing, and spends her free time with her dog, doing yoga, and watching cooking shows.