iPhone Update Lets Users Search For Prescription Drug Interactions With Cannabis
Most big tech companies still censor cannabis content, but Apple is accepting the fact that legal weed is here to stay.
Published on September 21, 2022

At a time when most big tech firms continue to censor even the slightest mention of cannabis, Apple is recognizing that millions of people can legally get high whenever they choose.

The tech giant's most recent acknowledgement of widespread cannabis legalization is rolled into its latest iOS 16 update. The company's updated Health app includes a new feature which allows users to search for potential interactions between any prescription medications that they may be taking. With the iOS 16 update, the Health app will also allow users to search for interactions between prescriptions and common recreational drugs, including alcohol, tobacco – and cannabis.

In general, cannabis is less likely to have negative interactions with pharmaceuticals than alcohol. Even so, there are at least two dozen prescription drugs that can cause serious health consequences when combined with pot. For example, smoking weed while drinking alfentanil, a narcotic cough medication, can reportedly cause “respiratory distress, coma, and even death,” reports. Around 350 other drugs could also potentially cause minor or moderate side effects if mixed with cannabis.

And although these negative interactions are relatively rare, the national stigma against cannabis makes it difficult to discover this information. Many doctors are woefully uneducated about weed, which makes it hard for them to warn their patients about cannabis contraindications. And although every legal weed product comes plastered with warning labels, few states actually require cannabis packaging to list interactions with prescription medicines. 

Without clear advice from their physicians, many patients turn to the internet for answers. Unfortunately, many big tech companies censor any and all cannabis-related content, including important health information. TikTok, for example, recently banned a series of PSAs that New York state officials created to warn people about potential health risks of cannabis.

Meta, parent of Facebook and Instagram, is one of the most notorious offenders. The social media giant has blocked ads for vapes, weed, and even CBD products, and still regularly deletes or shadow-bans legal cannabis companies' accounts. Meta even maintains these policies in Canada, where weed is entirely legal. Many online gaming services also censor references to weed, but Twitch recently adopted a new pot-friendly username policy.

Google still allows people to search for information about cannabis, at least, but the company still bans legal weed delivery or sales apps on its Android phones. Apple actually used to enforce a very similar policy, but the company finally started allowing legal medical and adult-use dispensaries to distribute apps through its iOS app store last year.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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