Weedmaps says it will stop advertising unlicensed cannabis stores this year
Weedmaps (they of the Museum of Weed that we visited recently) has announced that it’s going to reverse policy later this year, and stop advertising unlicensed cannabis shops. Weedmaps has been a directory of cannabis outlets since its founding back in 2008, but as you might imagine, not all of the locations it has featured have been licensed or legal. Initially, no one was legal, and Weedmaps served as a way for medical marijuana patients to connect, but over the years, as more and more states legalized cannabis, Weedmaps starting showing unlicensed illegal dealers in their listings, right next to dealers and dispensaries that had gone through the often costly and frustrating process of being officially licensed.
And now, apparently, those times are over. Weedmaps has announced in a press release that it will restrict its services (including point of sale data, online orders, delivery information, and wholesale connections) to licensed cannabis sellers only. The company also plans to provide more support to licensed minority operators, including coaching, professional support and development, and free tools for promotion and listing on the website.
Unfortunately, Weedmaps’ statement isn’t super clear — the company is basically saying that it will support licensed operators more, rather than advertising the move as a crackdown on unlicensed operators. But in general, this sounds like a good thing for anyone with a license, and it’s a sign that Weedmaps’ position is changing, at least. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control sent Weedmaps a letter back in March telling it to stop advertising nearly 2000 unlicensed dispensaries, but the company essentially ignored the request, saying it wasn’t licensed by the Bureau, and thus not “subject to the Bureau’s purview.”
It sounds like Weedmaps might have rethought that position, however, especially as cannabis laws are becoming more widespread and the hazards of unlicensed sales (like “fake” vape carts that might contain pesticides, be poorly extracted, or be dangerous or even deadly to use) are becoming more of a problem. Weedmaps’ plan here appears to be to try to re-position itself away from unlicensed dispensaries and to become a resource for only licensed operators, but the illegal market is still pretty busy — we’ll have to see just how much their advertising changes as the year goes on.