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App Store: Weed is in, gun depictions are out

A few months ago, Apple pulled a marijuana-related app called MassRoots from the App Store. What’s odd is that the app, a social-networking tool for those who use cannabis medically or for recreational purposes, had been in the store between July 2013 and November 4, 2014. 

At the time, it was conjectured that Apple pulled the app for violating Section 2.18 of the App Store Review Guidelines. Those guidelines state that “apps that encourage excessive consumption of alcohol or illegal substances, or encourage minors to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes, will be rejected.” 

After the app was removed from the App Store, MassRoots founder Isaac Dietrich attempted to have the app reinstated by offering to geo-restrict its use to the 23 states that allow legal medical and/or recreational use of marijuana. Apple didn’t go for it until last week, when an Apple representative contacted Dietrich and stated that “cannabis social apps” were now permissible provided that geo-restriction to legal states was enforced.

According to a post on the MassRoots blog today:

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.


At the same time Apple is loosening restrictions on the evil weed, they’re tightening restrictions on apps that portray guns or violence in screenshots, promotional videos, or even app icons. Pocket Gamer reports that several game app developers have been asked to edit out guns, even to the point that the games Rooster Teeth vs. Zombiens and Tap Army have new app icons that don’t show guns. 

Pocket Gamer reports:

As Instapaper creator Marco Arment points out, this has been part of Apple’s rules forever, basically. Rule 3.6 in the app review guidelines states “apps with App icons, screenshots, and previews that do not adhere to the 4+ age rating will be rejected”.

It seems like Apple has started actively enforcing that rule.


Our take on the news: It’s refreshing to see that Apple finally appears to be making an attempt to be consistent with its published guidelines. In the past, haphazard enforcement made some developers quite angry with the App Store guidelines to the point that we heard from devs who gave up on iOS and Mac. The marijuana-related news also shows that Apple is willing to show some common sense when it comes to controversial apps, making them “App Store legal” for consenting adults in specific legal regions. On the other hand, is it really necessary for Apple to censor games that in many cases show very cartoon-like violence?

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!