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Apple Unblocks Marijuana App Massroots, Revises Policy

By McCarton Ackerman 02/18/15

The AppStore had a change of heart after receiving thousands of emails from pot advocates.

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Just three weeks after Apple formally removed cannabis social networking app Massroots from the App Store, the company had a change of heart and will once again allow the app to be downloaded.

Massroots announced in a blog post last Friday that Apple has bended their formerly rigid policy on marijuana apps after pot advocates sent 10,000 emails asking the company to reconsider, allowing users to download it if they live in one of 23 states where either recreational or medical marijuana is legal. Any user will need to be identified by a geolocation check that they live in one of these states. 

“We’d like to thank the App Store for embracing the cannabis community and continuing to set an example as a socially-progressive institution. We are excited to begin a new chapter with Apple in which we can work together to affect meaningful societal change,” read the Massroots blog post. “We have a duty to show the world that cannabis consumption can be done in a safe and responsible manner in compliance with state laws and federal enforcement guidelines. We do not take this task lightly.”

Marijuana app developers were growing frustrated with Apple since the application process was significantly slower than that of Android and Google Play. Zach Marburger, CEO of development firm CannaBuild, said the company's marijuana cooking calculator was approved by Android "in five minutes and rejected by Apple in 10 days."

The developers have also been upset that Apple reportedly rejected their apps without explanation, making it difficult to figure out what need to be tweaked in order for the app to get approved. Because the company won't explicitly state their terms of acceptability, developers claim they have been wasting time and money.

"Apple is going to find what works for them legally, so they're not concerned about repercussions from the government," said Casey Eastman, lead iOS developer for Denver-based app Weedmaps. "But, I wish they'd communicate that: 'Hey, we're worried about this, so we can't allow you to do this.' Instead, you submit it and they say, 'No, that won't fly.' You say, 'What about if we do this?' They say, 'We look forward to reviewing your app.'"

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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