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

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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.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Ideas without real attribution

". . .here we have a business columnist who thinks it's a mistake?"

Actually, Salkever may not think anything of the sort. He wrote that he "expected" a backlash. That's not the same thing as saying he approves of it. Of course, being a business journalist does not always go hand in hand with liberal opinions, but one should be wary of attributing opinions to people without solid evidence, so you are least correct in framing it as a question.

Re: attribution

It's ironic that your lecture about not "attributing opinions to people without solid evidence" includes an unsupported attempt to equate marijuana reform with liberalism. Don't make me list all the conservatives who support fixing our marijuana laws.

Anyhow, the author may or may not believe this is a mistake, but it's certainly a reasonable inference based on the totality of the article. He predicts backlash, while failing to note the rather obvious ways in which this was a smart business move for Apple.

There was an interesting story here about how changing cultural attitudes about marijuana are being reflected in the business world. Instead of picking up on that, the author concluded the piece by focusing on the much narrower and more dubious possibility that a few people will be offended.

gateway theory debunked here

Let`s take the Prohibitionists word for the gateway theory for a moment. Marijuana use leads to hard drug use. So there should currently be more hard drug user`s than marijuana user`s right? Need I say more?

Foundation For A Drug-Free World?

Nice that one of your ads is for the "Foundation For A Drug-Free World". Just proves you guys don't give a rat's ass about policy, just keep the cash going pro or con. Controversy pays the bills for your bleeding hearts.

borden's picture

fools speak first...

Fools throw stones first before getting the facts...

If you'd asked first I'd have explained that the Google ads show up before we get to review them. We can only block them after we see them on our site. We have blocked dozens of different ads from appearing on our site.

Before I decide whether to block this ad, I also have to learn more. Is it a prohibitionist group, or is it a group that uses that provides treatment services or education or economic development -- non-coercive strategies that could serve as an alternative to prohibition? I won't know until I look at their site -- did you look at their site?

As for looking for cash, so far as I know you're not paying the rent for us, and since we do have rent to pay, we are going to continue doing what we need to do to raise the money needed to do that, with no apologies. I urge you rethink that -- if you are telling drug reform groups to raise less money, then you are an obstacle to the cause, not a help to it.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Boycott Kellogg!

They had no problem with Phelps driving drunk, only with his using weed. Since they're promoting violence and hypocrisy, boycott the bastards. I'm sorry I don't have the link to all their various brands and products.

Phelps, Kellogg's, Weeds

Speaking of the Phelps backlash, apparently Kellogg's isn't too averse to having their brands associated with Cannabis: the latest episode of Weeds (I think it's #7, not sure) has a really clear product placement for Kashi cereal, the crunchy-groovy subsidiary of Kellogg's. I guess the boycott hurt...or else it's just simple hypocrisy!

re "ideas"

You're the only one bringing up Salkever's personal approval or disapproval of it, Salkever apparently thinks it's a business mistake for Apple to do this ("expect a backlash") and Scott Morgan doesn't think that is going to happen. Nothing here to do with whether Salkever personally approves or disapproves, but a judgement by Scott that Salkever is dead wrong in his judgement in predicting a backlash. You're just looking to take a cheap shot at your bete noir liberals and don't seem to realize how many conservatives and libertarians oppose the war on cannabis, or the war on selected drugs in general.
I think I've got this right. And sure seems that the times are (finally) achanging.

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