T-Mobile Sued For Blocking Marijuana Texts

T-Mobile cell phone service doesn’t want you to know where to buy medical marijuana in California.

EZ Texting has sued T-Mobile for blocking its service because T-Mobile “did not approve” of a the texting company doing business with a website, WeedMaps.com, that provides location information to help patients find medical marijuana dispensaries in the Golden State.

The suit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in New York City, reports Sam Gustin of Daily Finance. EZ  Texting said that on September 10, T-Mobile began the “unlawful blocking” of its 313131 text service, which it offers to businesses and non-profits to help get their messages to the public.

“T-Mobile has cut off my code and put my business in jeopardy,” said Shane Neman, CEO of EZ Texting. “There’s nothing illegal about knowing about legal dispensaries in the states they are legal in.”

WeedMaps is just one of EZ Texting’s 10,000 small business and non-profit customers all over the country that use its SMS platform to send content to users.

Shane Neman, CEO, EZ Texting: "If T-Mobile is blocking legal medical marijuana texts, what next?"

“None of our customers can send texts through 313131 on T-Mobile,” Nemen said. “None of the other carriers are blocking us.”

“EZ Texting is being irreparably damaged in its business because of the blocking by T-Mobile,” Neman said in a court filings. “The ability to exchange text messages with all cell phone users is vital to EZ Texting’s business”

T-Mobile, a division of German mobile giant Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY), and other mobile carries are experiencing growing tension with new startups like ChaCha, 4Info and EZ Texting that use text messages to deliver content to users. On Thursday, another digital startup threatened to sue T-Mobile over a forthcoming rate hike, reports Daily Finance.

“EZ Texting has a rigorous screening process to ensure that the businesses and non-profits that use EZ Texting to send text messages are doing so in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations,” Neman said.

T-Mobile began blocking texts after it discovered that WeedMaps, a company that provides information about medical marijuana dispensaries in California, was using the service, according to EZ Texting.

EZ Texting said it was informed by agregator OpenMarket that T-Mobile had found the site to be “objectionable,” and had blocked it.

Aggregators like OpenMarket are the middlemen between publishers like EZ Texting, as well as Twitter and Facebook, and the mobile subscribers to which they send content.

“T-Mobile doesn’t comment on pending litigation,” the mobile carrier said in statement.

There is a broader issue beyond the commercial aspect of T-Mobile’s actions, according to Neman.

“Consumers should have the right to text with whomever they want,” he said. “They have as much a right to make text messages as they do phone calls. If T-Mobile is blocking legal medical marijuana texts, what’s next — gay marriage, the Tea Party?” Neman said.

President and co-founder Gigi Soghn of DC-based advocacy group Public Knowledge assailed T-Mobile for blocking a legal service.

“This case is yet another example of a totally arbitrary decision by a carrier to block text message calls between consumers and organizations they want to communicate with,” Sohn said.

“The FCC should put a fast end to this blocking by issuing the ruling we asked them for three years ago,” Sohn said. “EZ Texting and other companies should be able to focus on growing their business rather than filing lawsuits to prevent blocking.”

Steve Elliott, a working journalist since 1982, is editor of Toke of the Town, Village Voice Media’s site of cannabis news, views, rumor and humor. To stay informed on the latest developments follow Toke of the Town on Twitter.

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7 Responses to T-Mobile Sued For Blocking Marijuana Texts

  1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Brian Brawdy
    September 18, 2010 at 10:32 am

    What’s next? Political parties or politicians they disagree with? Movies or the Theaters that air movie content they are opposed to? We have “Big Brother” and now TMobile is the “BIg Cousin” deciding what info is good or bad for us?
    slippery slope, it seems to me!

    • Gilbert Mercier
      +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Gilbert Mercier
      September 18, 2010 at 10:46 am

      Great point Brian. How do we stop this? Do we boycott T-Mobile and sign with Verizon? But again Verizon is about to get into a fishy deal with Google which good seriously affect net neutrality.

      • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Brian Brawdy
        September 18, 2010 at 11:55 am

        Gilbert, right on! We can vote with our credit cards, giving our business to their competitors, but what when we run out choices? Though the 1st Amendment applies to government censorship, it’s not just a law, it’s a good idea for all of us (companies and citizens) to emulate. If you have a voice, you ought to be able to voice it without interference from those who disagree with you.

  2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Leonard Krivitsky, MD
    September 18, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Those who oppose Medicinal Cannabis should be really ashamed of themselves. There were several scientific studies published just recently that confirmed Cannabis effectiveness in such diverse conditions as chronic pain, muscle spasms, malnutrition and glaucoma. Just a couple of days ago the media, including “USA Today”, published a study that Cannabis may relieve chronic pain even when other drugs don’t. This is extremely important for our wounded veterans, many of whom have chronic pain, and even chronic “neuropathic” pain, for which Medicinal Cannabis was found to be especially effective! Cannabis is also being shown by the most current addiction medicine research as a potential “exit” substance for former alcoholics, hard drug or even prescription drug abusers to help them stay off those substances. A very recent study just published called the so-called “gateway drug” theory “half-baked”. I simply always called it a fantasy. Both the American Medical Association and the Institute of Medicine are in favor of Medicinal Cannabis, and the Canadian Government even pays for this natural remedy for their veterans! There is growing evidence that Cannabis may help prevent such disastrous conditions as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and a very recent study just published denies any connection between smoking Cannabis and the risk for lung cancer! According to the prestigious Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, 4-th Edition, Cannabis use suppresses violent behavior and “only the unsophisticated” think otherwise. Everybody agrees as well that Cannabis is much safer than alcohol! It is also much safer than many dangerous, physically addictive prescription drugs, such as opiates or benzodiazepines.What we all need to do is reject baseless, anti-scientific scare tactics of the “opponents” and pass the Medicinal Cannabis legislation all across the Nation, and on the Federal level! This will require giving up certain “dogmas”, but this is how progress is made!

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1nedmorlef
    September 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Marijuana has a way of bringing the fascist out of people. Mark them because, once we’re legalized they’ll blend into the world like the nazis did after wwII

  4. Pingback:

    Vote -1 Vote +1World Wide News Flash

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1XingSoo
    September 19, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Shame on you T-Mobile, Shame on you!

    Lou
    http://www.online-privacy.eu.tc