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Instagram and Facebook are Stomping Cannabis Content

By John Wheeler

Have you noticed that anything and everything cannabis related on the ‘gram has severely dropped in views lately?  Even peripheral stuff like glass products?  Sometimes not even the kind you smoke out of?


You are not alone: everyone from the mightiest influencer to the humble local glass blower are watching their views and likes plummet.  If you ARE one the affected, you may have looked in your settings under Account Status and discovered a bunch of red X’s flagging various posts as unable to be promoted due to some mysterious violations of their social media cannabis guidelines.  

Of course there needs to be rules, but I don’t know anyone posting things like HEY EVERYONE, WEED FOR SALE!  Which, sure, they say you shouldn’t do that, but The Hideaway’s account was getting flagged for things like showing a jar full of leftover glass bits that was used in a guessing game.  Which means Meta decided to let some broadstroked AI system just go ham all over everyone’s content in a blind panic.

There has to be someone better for this job…

Why are they doing this all of a sudden?  They got in trouble. The DOJ is investigating them for allowing people to sell drugs on their platform (you know, like Snapchat and Telegram), so their natural reaction is to start terrorizing everyone who even mentions THC in a hashtag.  Probably because they have to act like they are trying to solve the problem when in fact they have absolutely no idea how they are actually going to pull it off.

It reminds me of the era of alcohol prohibition, where cops went overboard on arresting people for stupid things like jay-walking while looking the other way as Al Capone drove 20 semis full of illegal hootch right into their town.  Uncle Al was paying them well to not do their job, so they had to make it look like they were keeping busy with something.

At least until this guy showed up.

“Oh, but what if young children see a picture of a bong?”  

Listen, giving kids unfettered access to social media is basically like handing them a pack of unfiltered cigarettes and turning them loose in a casino, with the only actual difference being that the smokey casino is probably better for them.  They’ll make friends, they might win something, and most chain smoking gamblers tend to grow up at least knowing how to do things like read and make eye contact.  It’s called “doom scrolling” for a reason, and the damage is done long before they see a video where some middle aged guy is making a water pipe.

“Least I got a job, fam, no cap”

There is a dramatic irony to a company that very much IS itself an addictive poison, making a big stink about keeping everyone safe from something as benign as marijuana.  

So what actually are Meta’s Cannabis Platform Policy Updates?  Here’s some stuff I found about that:

“In the ever-evolving landscape of social media policies, Meta has taken significant steps to update its stance on cannabis-related content. As the legal status of cannabis continues to shift across various jurisdictions, Meta has found itself in a position where it must navigate the complex interplay of legal compliance, community standards, and advertising opportunities.

Policy Updates: A New Direction

Recently, Meta announced a pivotal change in its advertising policies concerning cannabis-related products. The company has shifted its ‘Hemp & Related Products’ ad policy to ‘CBD & Related Products’, broadening the scope of legally permissible CBD products in the US1. This update signifies a more nuanced approach, allowing for the promotion of hemp products without CBD or with less than 0.3% THC in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, provided they adhere to local laws and industry guidelines1.

Meta’s updated policy also opens doors for education, advocacy, and public service announcements related to CBD and related products. Such content is now permissible as long as it does not promote any prohibited products for sale2. This move reflects Meta’s recognition of the growing need for informative discourse around cannabis products, which can play a crucial role in shaping public perception and knowledge.

Despite these progressive steps, Meta maintains strict prohibitions against promoting THC products or cannabis products containing psychoactive components3. The platform continues to enforce its rules against content that promotes the sale of illegal or prescription drugs, aligning with its broader policy guidelines3.

For advertisers looking to promote CBD products, Meta has introduced a certification process through LegitScript. This process includes a thorough review of product labels, licenses, and sample testing to ensure compliance2. Upon obtaining LegitScript certification, advertisers must seek written permission from Meta to run their ads2.

Cannabis companies navigating Meta’s content regulations face a challenging yet potentially rewarding landscape. The updated policies offer new avenues for marketing legally permissible products while emphasizing the importance of compliance and responsible messaging. As Meta continues to adapt its policies in response to changing laws and societal attitudes, cannabis companies must remain vigilant and adaptable to capitalize on these evolving opportunities.

Conclusion: A Balancing Act

Meta’s crackdown on cannabis-related posts is not a blanket ban but a calibrated effort to align with legal frameworks and societal norms. By updating its policies, Meta aims to strike a balance between enabling legitimate businesses to reach their audience and preventing the promotion of substances that remain illegal in many areas. As the conversation around cannabis legalization progresses, Meta’s policies will likely continue to evolve, reflecting the platform’s commitment to staying current with the times while upholding its responsibility to its global community.”

Sounds like they are getting serious, but once again this appears to be aimed more at actual businesses that sling the good stuff, despite the fact that someone wearing a t-shirt with a pot leaf on it is just as likely to get crushed by this apparatus.  

So what if you are simply a cannabis influencer?  

“The implications for cannabis influencers in light of Meta’s updated policies are multifaceted and require careful navigation. Here are some key points that influencers in the cannabis space should consider:

1. Ambiguity in Policy Enforcement: Social media policies regarding cannabis marketing are often ambiguous, which can lead to inconsistent enforcement1. Influencers must be vigilant in understanding the boundaries of what is considered promotion and ensure they do not inadvertently facilitate marketing or sales that could lead to their content being flagged or removed.

2. Jurisdictional Challenges: Some platforms, including Meta, recognize jurisdictional differences in cannabis regulations and legality1. Influencers should tailor their content to comply with the laws of the regions they target, which may require a nuanced approach given the global reach of social media.

3. Prohibition on Psychoactive Components: Meta’s policies strictly prohibit the promotion of THC products or cannabis products containing psychoactive components2. Influencers focusing on CBD and hemp-derived products may find more leeway, provided they stay within the legal THC limits and do not promote recreational or medical marijuana use.

4. Education and Advocacy Opportunities: The updated policies allow for educational content, advocacy, and public service announcements related to non-psychoactive cannabis products3. Influencers can leverage this to engage in informative discourse, raise awareness, and build their brand without direct promotion of products.

5. Risk of Account Suspension: Failure to comply with social media guidelines can result in account suspension or permanent bans4. Cannabis influencers must strive to be compliant citizens within the community to avoid losing their platform and audience.

6. Certification and Permission for Ads: For those looking to run ads for CBD products, obtaining certification through LegitScript and written permission from Meta is necessary3. This adds an extra layer of scrutiny and influencers should be prepared for this process if they wish to engage in paid promotions.

7. Impact on Underage Audience: All platforms restrict underage access to cannabis-related content, and influencers have a responsibility to ensure their content does not reach or influence a younger audience1. This includes being mindful of the language, imagery, and hashtags used in their posts.”

Better safe than sorry.

If I may put on my tin foil hat for a moment- this all smells a lot like big business gearing up for federal legalization.  Bulldozing the little guy years before sales even begin.  After all, major changes like this often bring a gold rush where smaller entrepreneurs can join the big leagues, and the people that already own everything hate the idea of “new money”.  In the past, it would take years of small businesses starting, growing, merging, and getting bought out before the iron gates of the status quo would once again close and remove all hope of true upward mobility.  This time it seems like they are getting out in front of it.  Man.  That’s a downer.  Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.

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