Drug Law

T-Mobile Blocking Marijuana Finder, Pricing App

| by NORML

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Cannabis consumers have always needed and pined for an effective tool that would tell us where the best cannabis can be found, what is the potency and price (and pricing trends).

Medical cannabis patients in the 14 states and the District of Columbia with cannabis patient protection laws can now visit a single webpage and receive real time pricing, popularity and potency on over 300 cannabis strains at Weed Strain Exchange (which is a component of the successful WeedMaps…See below).

In reviewing more and more commercial webpages that are catering to the ever-growing and lawful medical cannabis industry Weed Strain Exchange differs from the recently released PriceofWeed in that more information is available for consumers to employ, in real time, when making their medical cannabis purchases.

The information can be deployed on mobile devices providing the ultimate in cannabis consumer empowerment…making the days of purchasing cannabis from open air drug markets, the dude on the corner or calling a ‘friend’ seem increasingly antiquated.

Great business story, right?

Wait a minute…

With over 90 million Americans living in the states with medical cannabis laws a cool application like Weed Strain Exchange is getting short-sighted and imprudent blow back from one of the country’s biggest Telecom providers, T-Mobile, who has decided it is going to censor WeedMaps’ commerce and is blocking their short code from showing up on T-Mobile devices.

The matter of a major cell phone provider blocking lawful information about lawful commerce is now in the federal courts where a number of public interest groups (notably Public Knowledge) are supporting WeedMap’s efforts not to be discriminated against by T-Mobile by establishing federal laws that treat text messaging (and other short codes) with the same privacy protections as all of our phone conversations enjoy (which can’t be interfered with unless a judge signs a warrant).

WeedMaps and its related webpages are not only on the cutting edge of cannabis commerce in America, the company is standing up for the rights of all of us to communicate free of corporate or governmental interference and/or censorship.

Kudos to WeedMaps!

Lastly, despite the current legal wranglings with T-Mobile, WeedMaps was acquired today in a friendly merger by LLUC.PL, further demonstrating the era of M & A (mergers and acquisitions) in the nascent, but fast-growing cannabusiness industry in America.

Looks like cannabis-related businesses are going ever higher.

Suit against T-Mobile for text blocking heads to federal court this week

By Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

September 27, 2010

A federal court will hear arguments this week on EZ Texting’s suit against T-Mobile for for blocking cellphone text messages. The case has spurred debate over the government’s role as a regulator of text-messaging communications on cellphones.

On Thursday, the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York will conduct a hearing on allegations that T-Mobile stopped sending texts for EZ Texting’s customer WeedMaps.com, a medical marijuana distribution Web site, because of the content of the site. EZ Texting said that T-Mobile’s action stifled free speech and that rules to protect phone users from blocking should also be applied to texts.

T-Mobile disputes EZ Texting’s claims in comments to the court, saying the New York-based messaging firm didn’t comply by T-Mobile’s best practices guidelines. EZ Texting was originally assigned the short code 313131 for cellphone users to call and receive text messages for promotions from bars and night clubs. When EZ Texting decided to add marketing alerts for WeedMaps.com, it didn’t inform T-Mobile of the change. T-Mobile said it and the cellular industry require such notification from its short-code partners.

Last Friday, EZ Texting responded to the court that it believed that Weedmaps.com texts were blocked because of the site’s content. Of T-Mobile’s best practices guidelines, EZ Texting CEO Shane Neman said, “This is not common industry practice, and T-Mobile never enforced this purported requirement until it learned about the Web site at issue here.”

Neman said that 4INFO, the firm that gave EZ Texting its short code, learned that T-Mobile would be blocking EZ Texting because it was “considered inappropriate.” An EZ Texting manager was given a similar message in a conversation with a T-Mobile employee, Neman said.

The case highlights a murky regulatory environment for one of the fastest-growing mediums of communications. Consumers sent 152 billion text messages last year, compared with 9 billion in 2005. The FCC doesn’t regulate text messages, which is considered an information service like broadband Internet, in the same way that it does plain old phone service.

Public Knowledge, a media reform group, said the unfolding details support their push for the Federal Communications Commission to clearly assert its authority to regulate text messages as a common carriage service, like regular phones. The FCC prohibits calls from being blocked in a discriminating fashion, and the same rules should apply to texts, said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge.

“The additional details in this case again make it abundantly clear the Federal Communications Commission must act to protect the legal status of text messaging and short codes,” she said.

**UPDATE as of 7AM, Saturday, October 2, 2010:

According to Wired, the parties settled out of court.