The latest version of Apple’s iPhone software offers users the ability to track medications and learn about possible drug interactions with other substances, including marijuana.
As the cannabis legalization movement has evolved, the tech giant has gradually revised its policies over the years, which generally align with the normalization of cannabis. The latest example is the iOS 16 update to Apple’s Health app.
Users can tell the Health app whether they use alcohol, cannabis, or tobacco to check for “potential interactions between drugs on your list.”
A footnote to Apple’s press release regarding the Health app update last week states that drug and interaction information “is evidence-based content licensed from Elsevier. , a leading publisher of health and science information.
“The Medications feature should not be used as a substitute for professional medical judgment,” the tech company warns. “Additional information is available on drug labels, but users should consult their healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions.”
Although marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, a number of studies published over the years suggest that cannabis may interact with pharmaceuticals like warfarin. According to Drugs.com, there are nearly 400 “known” interactions between prescription drugs and marijuana, 26 of which are classified as “major.”
Many states that have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use also have labeling requirements for marijuana products to warn consumers of possible health risks. Most of these warnings relate to impaired driving and common side effects of cannabis such as drowsiness.
Florida’s medical cannabis law requires labels to list possible contraindications, but it’s unclear what source health officials use to compile this list.
In any case, Apple’s update that lists cannabis alongside federally legal substances, alcohol and tobacco, is another example of marijuana’s integration into Big Tech.
Last year, Apple ended its policy of blocking cannabis companies from doing business on its App Store. Marijuana delivery service Eaze later announced that consumers could purchase and pay for products on its iPhone app for the first time.
Amazon’s recent announcement that it will no longer be cannabis drug testers is another sign that big tech companies are embracing the political and social ascension of cannabis.
Still, some players in the tech industry have had a strained relationship with the marijuana industry.
Earlier this year, marijuana regulators in New York called on social media app TikTok to end its ban on advertising involving the word “cannabis” as they work to promote cannabis. educating the public about the state’s decision to legalize.
On Facebook, state-legal cannabis businesses, advocacy groups, and government entities like the California Bureau of Cannabis Control have complained of being “shadow banned,” where their profile pages don’t appear. in a conventional search. It was reported in 2018 that the social media giant would relax its restrictive cannabis policies, but it’s unclear what steps it has taken to achieve this.
The same problem exists on Facebook-owned Instagram, where people have consistently said their accounts were taken down by the app for marijuana-related content, even though they weren’t advertising the sale or promoting the use of cannabis.
In 2020, Twitter began partnering with a federal drug agency to promote drug treatment resources when users of the social media platform search for “marijuana” or certain other substance-related keywords, but no such health warning appears with results for alcohol-related terms. .
Unlike Apple, Google’s Android app hub updated its policy in 2019 to explicitly ban programs that connect users to cannabis, whether or not they’re legal in the jurisdiction where the user lives.
Although marijuana companies have been banned from Google’s app market, some of the company’s top officials seem quite optimistic about the relaxation of cannabis laws. Google co-founder Sergey Brin joked about providing joints to employees during a post-election meeting in 2016.
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