Karhlyle Fletcher   |   August 04, 2021

Apple Softens Stance on Cannabis Apps

Is big tech turning the corner in a quest for cannabis acceptance?
Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

In any industry, accessibility is one of the most important aspects to get right. Apple has finally allowed cannabis the same transaction rights as any other standard business within their marketplace. This policy change will transform the mobile cannabis market.

Big Tech Warms Up to Cannabis 

Although not every company within Silicon Valley is on board, Amazon redefined the status quo by lobbying for federal legalization. Still, it is suspected that organizations such as Facebook engage in the shadow-banning cannabis business, including publications. The practice of shadow-banning is not listing posts in relevant search results.

With California flirting with "decriminalizing certain hallucinogenic substances" and Apple opening its App market to the cannabis business, a massive shift is coming. It wouldn't be mind-blowing to see Amazon begin to list psilocybin mushrooms or for a sizable minority of cannabis transactions to happen over apps. When the laws shift, innovation will happen within moments.

Keep in mind that Amazon is the largest employer in America. They're practically as strong as any union. With them behind legalization, there will likely be little resistance. Five states have legalized cannabis this year so far, and the list continues to grow.

With federal research on MDMA therapy and loosening restrictions on cannabis, we're ready for the next step in the industry—time to shift from an experimental industry into a household name.

In the Clash of the Titans, Who Can Save Cannabis?

Despite gaining Amazon and Apple as allies, companies such as Google and Facebook have yet to show their support. Perhaps this is because of the no-gain game they play while straddling legality and public approval, but cannabis is here. They have no audience to lose by supporting cannabis. Google employees and higher-ups already joke about using the substance recreationally.

As for Facebook, they will follow the public eventually. Those who don't support cannabis now will tolerate it later. Once the field is set, this will allow cannabis businesses to operate in daylight, with traditional business expenses and profits. Being able to rely on apps could make tracking transactions much more straightforward. Such data is crucial in attempting to normalize cannabis tax and give businesses a better deal through transparency and accuracy. When cannabis functions as a traditional industry, the government is responsible for providing equal and fair treatment.

Ultimately, the primary beneficiaries of these shifting policies are the consumers. Rather than bouncing between two or three websites to buy cannabis products, they can use a single app. Through a streamlined app, the consumers' risk of phishing and misinformation reduces. Another business likely to boom from this change is cannabis security, as privacy will become an unavoidable topic. Such issues are a feature of every modern industry, so it shouldn't be an insurmountable challenge to address in a timely fashion. 

What Do Cannabis Apps Look Like?

From purchasing to learning and cultural enrichment, cannabis apps can look like anything. Legends Cheech & Chong contributed their very own video game to the app market. While games like SimLeaf might not be up to snuff to compete as a Khan Academy course for cannabis growing, the proof of concept is there. More serious hardware for grow maintenance like the KindBot comes with apps that can automatically manage the conditions of a farm.

So there's already a plethora of apps related to cannabis on the market. Who's going to capitalize on the real opportunity to make money from cannabis via the app store? Several delivery services are already up and running utilizing the new privileges, including Eaze.

Hopefully, there's a trend with cannabis services teaming up with companies like StrainPrint, which aim to provide consumer-level information about cannabis. StrainPrint's app amasses self-reported data. Having verification and organization through verified purchases via app integration could transform the public's relationship with cannabis data. Rather than tracking down research, consumers could see information based on other people, similar to making an Amazon purchase or checking a Yelp review.

No one can predict the future, but as of now, there's a potent creative opportunity in the cannabis app world. It is likely we will see a company like High Times or Leafly corner the market. But maybe independent apps could stand a real chance. Perhaps a local union of farms could start a delivery service through the AppStore. Food for thought, and either way, a substantial win for normalization.

 

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