Two weeks ago, The Chronicle reported how Apple had yanked an app for MassRoots – an online community for marijuana users — from its iTunes store, even though it had been there from July 2013 until last Nov. 4 (coincidentally the same day voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia legalized marijuana for adult recreational use).
Founder Isaac Dietrich offered to geo-restrict the MassRoots app so only people living in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal could use it. He said Apple refused to budge.
But on Thursday, Apple budged, Dietrich told The Chronicle.
“A few hours ago, an Apple representative called to notify us that our efforts were successful: the App Store is permitting cannabis social apps that are geo-restricted to the 23 states that have legalized medicinal cannabis. MassRoots is available for download in the App Store,” Dietrich said.
In a blog post on the MassRoots site Thursday, company officials wrote that “a tremendous amount of responsibility has just been placed on MassRoots; 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.
“Over the coming weeks, we will be implementing new features to strengthen our compliance even beyond what is currently required. To our users, supporters, investors, advertisers, and Apple: thank you. We will not let you down.”
The battle continues for other companies. MassRoots was one one of a couple dozen marijuana-related businesses that have seen their social media pages darkened or their apps yanked from Apple’s iTunes stores with little warning or explanation.
Silicon Valley’s self-proclaimed libertarian, innovation-encouraging ethos withers when it comes to marijuana, a market that has boomed 74 percent over the past year to $2.7 billion, with California — where only medicinal pot is legal — accounting for nearly half that, according to January report released by marijuana data and analysis firm ArcView.
Medicinal marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and voters in four states have legalized marijuana for adults.