Social media has changed the way millions of people all over the world look at marijuana. Cannabis companies share their products and people share their stories of how weed has helped and changed their lives forever. But, the cannabis social media community is still discriminated against and are being blocked from their accounts indefinitely.
You might think that social media is the yin to marijuana’s yang seeing as it has been vital to changing laws and views over the last few years. While this is true, the leaders of the social media platforms are not okay with promoting marijuana. Since 2016, companies have not been able to sign into their social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook.
Facebook started suspending cannabis business accounts or deleting them completely without even sending the companies a notice or warning. Sadly, this goes for Instagram as well. Rick Scarpello, CEO of Incredibles, said he got locked out of his Instagram account.
Scarpello said, “We tried to log into Instagram, and a message said we violated their policy, but they won’t say what that violation is. I’ve written them every day, saying I’m not doing anything illegal and please reinstate my account.”
Instagram’s policy states “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”.
When it comes to Facebook, the company states in their policy that they “prohibit any attempts by unauthorized dealers to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, or firearms”. All the companies in question said they do not sell cannabis online and are in a state where weed is legalized.
With the rise of the legal marijuana industry also comes change throughout the world. Companies like Facebook and Instagram who are flagging these pages could be holding back this industry significantly. Isaac Dietrich of MassRoots believes in the cannabis community and wants it to thrive on social media.
Dietrich said, “Alcohol companies have Instagram accounts that Instagram restricts to users that are 21 and older, and we would be more than open to those types of controls. But they don’t give us those options”.
Dietrich also commented on how hard these brands work on their ads and they deserve to showcase them. He said, “These small businesses invest tens of thousands of dollars in building an organic following, and that in turn drives a significant amount of business to these dispensaries. And then, all of the sudden, all of that money and time flies right out the window. It’s killing jobs and the growth of the industry, and it may well be holding back the progression of cannabis legalization in the United States. All we’re asking for is clear guidelines”.
There are many people who believe in the marijuana industry and wish that social media would give it a proper chance. Lauren Gibbs is the president of Rise Above Social Strategies, a company who helps cannabis companies to create an online presence.
Gibbs says, “Social media provides the opportunity for a dialogue about cannabis, showing people that it’s normal. 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”.
What has been done to attempt to change this is cannabis social media websites and apps. The idea is simple – these websites and apps can be used by anyone 21 or older and are like Facebook where you can socialize, share, and follow cool brands. The difference is that everything on these sites will only be about marijuana and cannabis brands.
One of these sites is Kannatopia, created by Kurt Akers to give cannabis users and companies a common ground without fear of deletion. On their website, it says “Kannatopia is a community to connect, socialize, experience, share, learn and explore with people who have similar interests. Our vision is to Connect the Cannabis World. Our mission at Kannatopia is to put an end to social stigmas and stereotypes that exist for medical patients and adult recreational consumers. Join us in supporting Cannabis freedom!”
When asked about the stigma given to the cannabis community, Akers had a lot to say. Akers said, “For decades, consumers of cannabis have been looked at differently, as cannabis continues to move into the legal and transparent light, we will continue to see a trend of social acceptance around cannabis consumption. It is about time that we have reached this tipping point and continue to see attitudes change for the better”.
While I agree that it is time for social media acceptance to be given to the marijuana industry, is a full-on exodus of Facebook and Instagram the answer? Some people worry that this will regress the positive outlook on weed overall. Hopefully, this isn’t true, but maybe instead of going separate ways, social media and cannabis culture need to find common ground.
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