Google has updated its Play Store content policy with regard to marijuana, and it’s going to have an effect on some existing Android apps.
Google says that Android apps that allow users to order marijuana using an in-app shopping cart are no longer allowed on the Play Store. There are already services like that that exist, including the popular Weedmaps and Eaze apps. Earlier today it was thought that those apps might now be banned from the Play Store, but Google has clarified the issue.
According to Google, any apps that violate its updated policy just need to move their shopping cart outside of the app to be compliant. “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,” the company explained in a statement to Android Police. These changes must be made in the next 30 days.
Apps like Weedmaps and Eaze now have a couple of options to ponder. They can either remove the in-app ordering feature to comply with Google’s policy, which will make the user experience worse but keep them in the Play Store (neither app has an in-app shopping cart on iOS), or they can keep the feature in and get users to sideload the apps onto the Android phones. The latter option is more work for consumers, but it might be worth it to keep the app’s functionality intact.
Google hasn’t explained its marijuana policy change, but there are likely multiple factors that played a part in the move. Just today, Google wrote up a post on the Android Developers Blog titled “Building a safer Google Play for kids”, and so it may be part of Google’s effort to offering a “positive, safe environment for children and families.” It’s also worth remembering that while some states have legalized recreational marijuana, its sale is still illegal under federal law.
Neither Weedmaps nor Eaze have issued a statement on this matter, but we’ll update you if they do.