The new rule puts marijuana in the same category as tobacco and alcohol, despite the fact that marijuana is now legal in a number of states. The company said it wants to make the Play Store a “positive, safe environment for children and families.”
“After taking input from users and developers, we are evolving our Google Play policies to provide additional protections for children and families,” the company said in a blog post. “These policy changes build on our existing efforts to ensure that apps for children have appropriate content, show suitable ads and handle personally identifiable information correctly; they also reduce the chance that apps not intended for children could unintentionally attract them.”
The rules also require that developers tell Google if children are their target audience, and if they are, to make sure to provide age-appropriate advertising.
As for marijuana, the company said some examples of policy violations would be: “Allowing users to order marijuana through an in-app shopping cart feature. Assisting users in arranging delivery or pick up of marijuana, or facilitating the sale of products containing THC.”
The company said it intentionally kept the policy narrow because it didn’t want to completely remove all marijuana-related apps.
“These apps simply need to move the shopping cart flow outside of the app itself to be compliant with this new policy,” a Google spokesman said. “We’ve been in contact with many of the developers and are working with them to answer any technical questions and help them implement the changes without customer disruption.”
The App Store run by Apple has a similar policy.