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Apple's New Marijuana Feature for iPhone is a Smart Business Move

Submitted by smorgan on
The press has been having a field day over a new iPhone application that helps users locate medical marijuana. As if the iPhone needed more product recognition, it is once again the most-discussed commodity on the web thanks to Apple's shrewd decision to approve this unique feature:

Here's how it works. The application displays an interactive map dotted with doctors who can prescribe medicinal marijuana treatment for their patients.

It also shows -- after, presumably, users have procured prescriptions -- the medicinal marijuana suppliers within the users' vicinity. And, what's more, the application includes a database of lawyers who specialize in marijuana-related cases, in [case] should users encounter skeptical local authorities. [ABC News]

The whole thing is just brilliant. They'll sell many thousands of these apps at $2.99 each, not to mention additional iPhone sales resulting from the massive press coverage. Of course, any time a marijuana-related story gets big coverage, you can count on someone in the press to botch the story. This time it was Alex Salkever at Daily Finance, who wrote:

I expect a backlash will hit Apple for having greenlighted Cannabis. Legalization opponents call marijuana a gateway drug that leads users to harder narcotic substances.

Wait a second. Apple just generated explosive international press for offering an innovative product and here we have a business columnist who thinks it's a mistake? Where is this "backlash" going to come from? If you want a controversy, you're going to have to start it yourself.

Medical marijuana has been legal in California for more than a decade and it's working so well that the Governor is now talking about legalizing marijuana outright. For many years now, the only controversy surrounding medical marijuana has been the DEA's widely unpopular interference with it, and President Obama has drawn nothing but praise for putting a stop to that.

Ironically, Salkever's analysis isn't just wrong, it's really the perfect opposite of what's going to happen here. Apple is doing this precisely because it's a good business strategy to reach out to marijuana culture and especially legal patients. Fears of "backlash" are what led Kellogg's to drop Michael Phelps and they got crucified for it, which is exactly what would have happened to Apple if they blocked services for medical marijuana patients.

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