(App Store)

Pot app MassRoots is back in Apple’s App Store after getting kicked out

In January The Cannabist reported on the many issues a number of marijuana-related apps had been having with Apple’s App Store. Some apps, like Weedmaps, were forced to walk a tightrope of terminology and functionality while others, including Instagram-for-weed start-up MassRoots, had been removed from the App Store entirely.

While apps in the cannabis space still face roadblocks, developers are celebrating a small win today amid the news that MassRoots is back on the App Store. The news even took Isaac Dietrich, CEO of the Denver-based social media outfit, by surprise.

From left, Isaac Dietrich, Hyler Fortier and Austin Hayslip discuss a business brochure during a staff meeting Thursday at MassRoots in Denver. MassRoots' marijuana-centric social media app was removed from Apple’s App Store in November.  (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)
From left, Isaac Dietrich, Hyler Fortier and Austin Hayslip discuss a business brochure during a staff meeting Thursday at MassRoots in Denver. MassRoots’ marijuana-centric social media app was removed from Apple’s App Store in November. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)

“Apple did not tell me anything specific,” Dietrich told The Cannabist, noting there are still communication issues with Apple’s app review process. “However, every marijuana developer I’ve talked to has seen a dramatic, positive improvement in their experience with the App Store.”

It’s bold words from a businessman whose app was pulled from the App Store on the same November 2014 day voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. said they wanted legal recreational marijuana. When Dietrich spoke with The Cannabist in January, he talked about how he was operating blindly without guidance or advice from the tech giant on what they would or would not accept.

“Apple is censoring the cannabis movement right now, and it’s slowing down innovation in the cannabis industry to a greater extent than the federal government,” Dietrich told us in January. “I can’t believe that (Apple CEO) Tim Cook is letting this happen.”

Dietrich claimed in January that Apple had changed its policy regarding apps in the marijuana space, but Apple assured The Cannabist that was not the case. The company directed The Cannabist to its legal guideline 22.1, which says, “Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users.”

When asked if his team changed any of the app’s functionality, Dietrich responded, “The only thing Apple required us to do was strengthen our geo-fence. We didn’t have to change the functionality or concept of MassRoots.”

MassRoots shouted out to Apple in a new blog announcing its reinstatement to the App Store: “Throughout this campaign, the MassRoots team never stopped using our iPhones, MacBooks, and iPads as a testament to Apple’s world-class products. 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.”