Title:  California’s battle with Weedmaps shows the growing pains of legalization

Author: LA Times

Date: 15 March 2018

URL: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-weedmaps-illegal-dispensaries-20180316-story.html


Weedmaps may have positioned itself as Yelp for pot shoppers, but state regulators say there is a crucial difference: The bulk of the businesses in Weedmaps’ directory are illegal, even under state law. That’s undermining one of the primary goals of Proposition 64, which was to extinguish the black market in favor of a state-authorized, highly regulated cannabis marketplace.

Last month, the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control sent Weedmaps a cease-and-desist letter, threatening fines and criminal penalties if the company did not remove the listings for unlicensed marijuana businesses. The Weedmaps site and app let users search through listings submitted by marijuana dispensaries and delivery services, then offer their own reviews. The bureau said the Irvine-based company is violating a state law that bars websites from publishing a cannabis business advertisement if it does not display a license number.

The warning letter was part of a broader crackdown launched after licensed retailers complained that they were being undercut by unlicensed ones that didn’t pay the state’s hefty fees and taxes. The bureau sent 900 warning letters to marijuana shops suspected of operating without state licenses since Jan. 1. Many of those illegal shops, ironically, were found on Weedmaps, state officials said.


Title: Cannabis website to California: Section 230 protects us from your demands

Author: Ars Technica

Date: 14 March 2018

URL: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/03/weedmaps-resists-californias-demand-to-halt-illegal-cannabis-ads/


On Monday, Weedmaps executives responded with their own letter, saying that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that removes liability of a website for the actions of its users, acts as its shield. Digital rights groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation have argued that Section 230 is what protects the Web as a whole—publishers don’t have to worry about being sued if one of their users is accused of violating the law.

A revision of the law is currently being proposed with the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, which, according to the EFF, would “punch a hole” in Section 230. The new bill is aimed squarely at Backpage, a notorious website that continues to allow prostitution advertisements.

Weedmaps CEO Doug Francis and President Chris Beals wrote to the BCC that they believe their company is shielded by Section 230.


Title:  Sober up, Weedmaps. Refusing to follow California’s cannabis laws is bad for business

Author: Sacramento Bee

Date: 14 March 2018

URL: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article205087319.html


The executives of Weedmaps must have been smoking something when they decided they could have it both ways with California’s cannabis laws.

Just two years ago, the Irvine-based company, known across the web as the “Craigslist of cannabis,” was spending mightily on Proposition 64. The company was instrumental in getting the ballot initiative to legalize and regulate pot before voters, who overwhelmingly approved it.

Now, though, Weedmaps is refusing to comply with those same state regulations.

In a letter to Lori Ajax of the Bureau of Cannabis Control on Monday, the company’s CEO Doug Francis and President Chris Beals argued that the state agency has no authority to regulate WeedMaps because it is a technology company, not a marijuana company.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article205087319.html#storylink=cpy


Weedmaps counters California’s order to quit assisting unlicensed cannabis companies

Weedmaps Receives Cease-and-Desist Order from California Cannabis Regulators Over Unlicensed Dispensary Ads


Title:  California Bureau of Cannabis Control Issues Cease-and-Desist, Weedmaps Replies

Author: Marijuana.com

Date: 13 March 2018

URL: https://www.marijuana.com/news/2018/03/california-bureau-of-cannabis-control-issues-cease-and-desist-weedmaps-replies/


Last week, it was reported that the California Bureau of Cannabis Control issued a cease-and-desist to Weedmaps, Marijuana.com’s parent company, on the grounds that the website and smartphone application advertises cannabis dispensaries and delivery services that are unlicensed by the state.

Weedmaps responded to the notice from bureau chief Lori Ajax on Monday, stressing the importance of lifting local bans and pointing out that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that removes the liability of a website for the actions of its users, acts as its shield, as reported by Ars Technica.

The company’s CEO Doug Francis and president Chris Beals wrote a letter to Ajax pointing out that the business doesn’t fall under the Bureau’s jurisdiction.

“Weedmaps is a technology company and an interactive computer service which is subject to certain federally preemptive protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and is also not a Licensee subject to the Bureau’s purview,” the letter stated, citing the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) and California regulations.