Popular Weed Website Tells California Cannabis Regulator That She Doesn’t Have Authority Over Its Content

Photo Credit: Dennis McCoy

Well-known marijuana forum website and smartphone app Weedmaps.com has told the state’s top California regulator that she doesn’t have the authority to police which retailers it allows to advertise.

Lori Ajax, chief of the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, had requested that the site stop accepting advertising from retailers that aren’t licensed by the state. Weedmaps pushed back against that assertion this week, saying in a letter to her office that it is protected under the federal Communications Decency Act, which means it is not responsible for content provided by a third party, similar to the way review sites like Yelp aren’t regulated.

Reports the Sacramento Bee:

Weedmaps charges cannabis companies anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars each month to advertise on its site. Ajax told Weedmaps to stop “engaging in activity that violates state cannabis laws” by advertising unlicensed retailers and by failing to publish license numbers for legal and illegal retailers. Hundreds of dispensaries and delivery services advertise on Weedmaps in California, far more than the number of companies licensed by the Bureau of Cannabis Control.

Weedmaps’ response to Ajax places the responsibility for having a license on the companies that use Weedmaps, saying “any groups that place information on our site represent and warrant that they are in compliance with local law.”

A spokesman for Ajax’s office said that they are still reviewing the letter and determining next steps. Weedmaps did not respond to a request for comment from the Business Times on Wednesday.

The letter also takes aim at the regulation of cannabis retailers in the state, particularly how high taxation is for the sector across California.

A report last month found that less than 1 percent of California’s cannabis growers have registered with the state’s new legal licensing system, because the costs associated with new regulations and a host of local laws banning grows are too prohibitive.