Hawaii Cannabis logo

Derek Staahl

Scottsdale, AZ — It plays a little like “The Sims” for stoners.

A new cell phone app called Hemp Inc. is challenging gamers to grow a digital weed business and legalize marijuana both in the game, and in real life.

The game hits the App Store as eight states are poised to vote on varying degrees of marijuana legalization efforts this fall.

Barring last-minute legal surprises, voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will see recreational marijuana use on the Nov. 8 ballot, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. On the same day, voters in Arkansas, Florida and Missouri will decide whether to approve medical marijuana use.

“I do intend for this game to communicate and send a message,” said veteran game developer Danny Hammett of HKA Digital Studios. Hammett helped develop the Tony Hawk and Call of Duty franchises while at Activision.

“The goal of the game right now is to grow weed, sell weed, and improve your standing in the community so you can help decriminalize cannabis within our virtual world,” he said.

But the game doesn’t stop there. Users are encouraged to sign a petition from NORML. They can interact with cannabis celebrities from marijuana magazine High Times. And soon, Hammett says they’ll be able to listen to a live stream from Scottsdale-based CannabisRadio.com as they play.

“Being able to present cannabis legalization in a completely different way, in a fiscally-responsible way, that’s something that is very enticing for us,” said Daron Babin, one of the founders of CannabisRadio.com.

To successfully grow a “Hempire” in the game, users have to master business principles like supply and demand.

“These very same issues that you’re experiencing inside the game are the same type of issues that you would experience as a real business owner in everyday life,” Babin said.

At higher levels, gamers have to tackle rather complex business issues, Hammett said.

“You will have to do deal with political issues, taxation issues, zoning issues, all of the above,” he said.

Hammett said he initially had doubts about signing on to a game that promotes marijuana legalization, but got on board with the project as he did more research.

“As a father of five daughters, do I want my kids out there smoking pot? No, I really don’t. But at the same time, do I think it’s vastly disproportionate, the laws that are applied in this space? Undeniably,” he said. “Anyone with half a brain should understand that.”

Hemp Inc. is free to download with premium features and add-ons that cost money.


TM & © 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.