Leafly launches in-app marijuana ordering option after change to Apple’s App Store rules

(Leafly Image)

Leafly this week launched a new feature in its iOS app that allows users to place marijuana orders for pickup, taking advantage of a change to Apple’s App Store rules.

Apple previously prevented apps from directly facilitating cannabis orders. That meant users of Leafly, which helps people find cannabis shops, had to complete any orders on a mobile web browser.

Apple made the change earlier this summer. There are still restrictions on the apps to ensure they are legal and are geo-restricted to a given jurisdiction where weed is legal.

Other apps such as delivery service Eaze and Leafly competitor Weedmaps have also taken advantage of the new rules.

“Apple’s decision to update their guidelines is a huge step forward in ending outdated policies that limit access to legal cannabis,” Leafly CEO Yoko Miyashita said in a statement.

Apple has come under scrutiny from developers and politicians, among others, for how it regulates the App Store. This week the tech giant said it would allow “reader” apps to link users to their own sign-up websites.

The cannabis-related change should provide a boost for Leafly, which is set to go public through a SPAC deal announced last month that will value the company at $385 million.

Founded in 2010, Leafly’s online marketplace has more than 125 million annual visitors and more than 7,800 brands use its services. The Seattle startup also serves as an educational resource.

Leafly is active in all 50 states, and is order-enabled in 32 states. (Via Leafly investor presentation)

An investor presentation shows that Leafly reported $29.6 million in revenue for 2020, up 21% year-over-year, with a loss of $8.1 million, down from $30.9 million. It projects $65.3 million for 2022 revenue.

Leafly’s revenue primarily comes from a monthly subscription fee paid by cannabis retailers to be listed on the platform and to access e-commerce tools. It also makes money from advertising.

Miyashita, a former Getty Images exec who was previously the company’s general counsel after joining in 2019, took over as CEO in August 2020. Leafly spun out of Seattle marijuana investment firm Privateer Holdings in 2019.

The company, which employs around 160 employees now, weathered some cuts in January 2020, letting go of 18% of its staff, or 54 positions, which then-CEO Tim Leslie attributed to “market realities of the technology and cannabis sectors.” It cut 91 more employees two months later, citing the uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company raised $23 million in new funding in June as the cannabis market has seen an increase in sales as more states legalize pot and dispensaries were declared essential businesses during the pandemic. Leafly has raised $38 million to date.

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