Not So Lit: Facebook & Instagram Shutting Down Marijuana-Related Accounts

Social media giants Facebook and Instagram have gone into overhaul by eliminating accounts that share information or products related to cannabis usage, The Guardian reports.

The business crackdown comes after retailers and marketing companies have existed on the sites for a number of years without breaking any laws. More than likely, the aggressive campaign is another method to eliminate the war on drugs. Suppliers are have been able to take a new route (social media) to sell and distribute drugs within the past five years, taking the industry to a new level.

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However, the tech giants’ new rules are directly affecting companies that exist legally like dispensaries based in Denver and New Jersey. Even apparel companies like StashTagz that sell cannabis-themed t-shirts got the boot. Many of the accounts that run said pages were locked out of their Facebook accounts. A client from the Cannabrand marketing agency received a message from Facebook suggesting to visit a drug counselor.

Lauren Gibbs, president of Rise Above Social Strategies, which helps other marijuana companies create a safe and legal presence on the interwebs, says social media has played a big part in making customers comfortable in taking part in the product.

“Social media provides the opportunity for a dialogue about cannabis, showing people that it’s normal,” Gibbs said. “A lot of people still aren’t comfortable walking into a dispensary, but with social media, you can create an image of a company that people can relate to and feel comfortable with their product.”

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A representative from Facebook said the accounts were closed because they were “violated their community standards, which outline what is and is not allowed on Facebook.” Marijuana is listed under the site’s  “Regulated Goods” section, which states: “We prohibit any attempts by unauthorized dealers to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, or firearms.”

Instagram’s guidelines do not allow the conversation about cannabis on the sites stating:  “Offering sexual services, buying or selling illegal or prescription drugs (even if it’s legal in your region), as well as promoting recreational drug use is also not allowed.”

While many of the companies share news about the marijuana, the fine line has been crossed, leading to potential losses. Several theories about why accounts were shut down reside from racketeering charges Facebook could face in engaging in the companies from the federal government to other companies flagging their competition.

Ironically, actual accounts that sell illegally reportedly haven’t been shut down, making the war to end drugs an impossible feat.