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Why Big Tech Should Embrace Cannabis


Big tech: the final frontier? For cannabis, it could be. One big problem that cannabis businesses face is the lack of legal validity of their messaging in new media platforms. There have been innumerable instances of Big Tech companies clamping down on Cannabis driven businesses. For example, Google explicitly states that its policy prohibits businesses from placing ads on their platform. Additionally, google not permit firms to use its platform for “substances that alter mental state for the purpose of recreation or otherwise induce ‘highs.’” Savvy marketers have since then resorted to clever workarounds. Still, the fact remains that Big Tech is unfriendly if not opposed to cannabis-related products.

But, thankfully, for many, many people, things are changing. Platforms are becoming more willing to accommodate cannabis-related businesses. For example, Apple has modified its App Store Review policies to provide room for “legal cannabis dispensaries.” Accordingly, it no longer forbids selling “controlled substances” to deliver cannabis medicines. The gap between such a policy and the Google Play Store’s resolve not to “facilitate the sale of marijuana or marijuana products, regardless of legality” is stark. But the good thing is that it is a gap that we are closing in on.

An Amazing Moment

Big tech and cannabis
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2021 was a landmark year in developing Big Tech’s outlook towards supporting the industry. Amazon made a slew of moves in the right direction, supporting the initiative. There were monumental announcements made by the firm. In the June 2020 version of the “update on our vision to be Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work,” the firm proclaimed:

The standard drug testing policy of the firm was modified to ensure that they “will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation.”

In another bold first for Big Tech, Amazon also expressed its solidarity with the MORE Act Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement. The Act represents the desire of legislators to “legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records, and invest in impacted communities.” Amazon hopes that “other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass the law.” In line with the policy modification, Amazon expressed support for Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act draft in writing to Senators Wyden, Schumer and Booker.

The most important thing is the sincerity with which the company acts according to its policy. For example, according to one disclosure, a part of the Q3 2021 $4.7 million lobbying spend supported the mentioned legal reforms.

The Significance of the Moves

To correctly view the significance of the development, we need to recognize that Amazon goes beyond simple, tangible goods e-commerce. It is a leading tech firm that powers a large part of the internet through its cloud computing products. Moreover, Amazon has a significant, if not the maximum, footprint in many physical and digital products. It sells things like groceries, ebooks, streaming services to pharmacies, and everything in between. In fact, pundits predict that Amazon will be selling cannabis products if permitted on the federal level following up its acquisition of virtual pharmacy stores.

Big Tech and Marijuana
Photo by RODNAE Productions, Courtesy of Pexels

The Hurdle of Reputation Risk

Reputation risk is an important deciding factor in the functions of credit unions and banks. Accordingly, many firms simply don’t take the risk of offering banking services to the cannabis industry to rule out any chances of the public label of a “weed bank.” The business moves of Apple and Amazon gain new importance in this light. It means that the two firms are confident that accommodating cannabis firms on their platforms do not pose a reputation risk.

What it Means for the Future

Business firms fear not only consumer backlash but federal policy inconsistencies as well. So getting Big Tech firms pushing you ahead is an excellent piece of reassuring news for cannabis businesses to start a new year.


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