Cannabis App Booted From Play Store: Will They Win Appeal?
The Loud Cannabis App works like this: patients who have been cleared by their doctor for use of medical cannabis log in to the app, which is HIPAA compliant (meaning patient verification and confidentially is up to snuff). The patient is then connected directly to growers, who deliver the medicinal goods with their own drivers (Loud doesn’t allow 3rd party delivery services).
Loud is operating in California, where medical cannabis use is currently legal. It’s a “farm-to-door” app, in the words of creators Green Exchange, who are marijuana farmers themselves.
So, what’s the rub?
After being named “Best New Marijuana App” by CannaNews, Loud experienced an influx of downloads, which may have prompted Google to take a closer look. Loud was pulled from the Play store a few days ago, and while Google hasn’t commented, Green Exchange believe it may have to do with the part of the Play policy that doesn’t support apps that encourage illegal activity. As Green Exchange lawyers counter, it’s not illegal in California.
Even in California, however, the laws are pretty hazy. In Sacramento city, there is an ordinance banning dispensaries from delivering medical marijuana. And, there is still the conflict between state and federal law — while California (and now 23 other states and Washington DC) says its legal, marijuana use continues to be an offence under federal law. Google may be pulling the app in compliance with federal, rather than state laws.
Green Exchange also cites the California Patient’s Bill of Rights, which says that “patients have the right to receive uninterrupted care.”
If Green Exchange moves forward with an appeal, it could set an important precedent for how medical cannabis delivery apps are treated within the Play store and beyond. If the Play store accepts them, it would allow them to gain more traction on a political and lobbying level. If Green Exchange is successful at moving back into the Play store and becoming a delivery staple, it could even change the way cities regulate distribution of medical cannabis.
Right now, dispensaries are valuable (and profitable) middle-man that provide not only an regulated place to acquire the medicine, but also provide lots of information for patients that is fostered by the face-to-face exchange with professionals. A patient who is trying medical cannabis for the first time needs resources, information, and advice for refining dosages and strains for their particular ailment — the dispensary is a great place to do this.
However, for patients who have already gone through the informational process, Green Exchange provides a valuable tool to make getting their medication easier. You can get other prescriptions delivered to your door by CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart (among others), so it’s not unprecedented for prescription medication to be delivered. In the words of Walgreens, they deliver so you “can eliminate that monthly errand to the pharmacy and never run out of important medications.”
Replace pharmacy with dispensary and you’ve got Green Exchange.
We’re curious to how this will turn out — will Google allow Loud back into the store? Will this evolve into a landmark case for delivery app? Time will tell, but for now, it seems like it could head in either direction.