Social Media and Cannabis; What Do the Rules Mean.
With the legalization of cannabis in many states, some businesses have started to adapt to the new world, but when it comes to social media, it seems that most companies have yet to follow suit. As cannabis culture continues to rise in the mainstream world, it is not surprising that a new wave of cannabis influencers, for lack of a better term, has started to gain popularity on various social media platforms. However, since cannabis is not legal on a federal level, some social media sites have started restricting certain cannabis content on their platforms. With the growth of the industry comes new areas of work, and people would like to be able to convey said work via social media. But as many of us are finding out, it’s not so easily done.
Let’s start out with everyone’s favorite photo site, Instagram. Instagram has very strict rules concerning its policy on cannabis-related photos being posted on their app. Instagram’s community guidelines state that promoting the sale of the drug is against the rules, however, you can post about weed-related content and advocate for cannabis.
Unfortunately, that is where the guidelines end. There is no further explanation of what exactly this means, making it confusing for social media site users to know what is okay to post and what is not. Many cannabis advocates, companies, and entrepreneurs rely on social media for outreach to their customers as that is how things are done in this digital era. But with random posts being taken down, or accounts being deactivated without any warning, many users are finding this very difficult to actually figure out.
While technically users are allowed to post cannabis-related content, many users have had their posts taken down without notice or explanation. Then when asked, Instagram does not reply to the user as to why their post was removed. While doing research for this article, I found countless instances of this happening, and it frustrates the community as a whole. Many people in the cannabis community have had their accounts suspended without notice or any answers from Instagram, and in some of those stories, the user got their account back without a word from Instagram. There needs to be a more specific set of rules for users to follow to be able to understand and comply with the rules, but as is, users can’t follow the rules because they don’t understand them.
Another site that's guidelines has cannabis users confused is YouTube. In early 2018, YouTube went on a rampage of deleting accounts and videos that were cannabis-related. The community guidelines on YouTube state that the user is allowed three strikes before the channel and all its content is deleted. However, similar to Instagram, there is no exact layout of what the rules are, thus many accounts get strikes for things that truly don’t deserve them. Another downside to YouTube and cannabis is that YouTube does not allow ad placement on cannabis-related content, siting that it is “age-restricted content.” Instead, users are allowed to sell sponsorships, merchandise, or enter into branded deals. Unfortunately, most YouTuber’s make their money off ads, meaning that they are losing a ton of money due to this rule.
After the YouTube purge of 2018, a group of those who had been deleted came together in hopes of finding a place to put their content. With that, TheWeedTube was born. TheWeedTube is exactly what it sounds like, a YouTube type platform for cannabis content. This site even provides commercial based advertising for cannabis-related companies. They are the first to do this in the cannabis community, allowing cannabis entrepreneurs to be paid for their work. If you are trying to get into the cannabis industry, I highly suggest you check out TheWeedTube for more information.
Another major social media site that has some regulations against posting about cannabis is Twitter. Twitter's advertising policies do not allow ads that promote drugs and drug paraphernalia globally. This includes illegal drugs, recreational and herbal drugs, accessories associated with drug use, drug dispensaries, and depictions of hard drug use. Because Twitter does not allow ads about recreational drugs, it does not allow cannabis companies to advertise their products via their site. However, Twitter does allow non-advertising tweets about cannabis, and keywords like marijuana are allowed to be used.
Facebook, on the other hand, has a more strict policy, similar to Instagram. Facebook’s ad policies say that the promotion of illegal or recreational drugs is prohibited. They have even gone as far as to say companies that promote healthy or educational information on cannabis will have their pages removed from the site. Facebook suggests avoiding images that have anything to do with smoking or drugs. This includes any drug-related paraphernalia such as bongs, rolling papers, and vaporized delivery devices.
We all love Snapchat because the photos disappear, but what are their policies on drug-related content? Well, Snapchat does prohibit ads about illegal or recreational drugs, however, if you search for key terms like marijuana or cannabis, you will find the content you’re looking for. It seems that Snapchat allows content about recreational drug use, as long as it is not promoting illegal drug activity. Similarly to that, Pinterest does not allow ads that promote the sale or use of illegal drugs, the company does allow ads promoting hemp and CBD only products.
It seems that all social media platforms do not allow ads to promote illegal drugs or the use of said drugs, but do allow some other types of cannabis-related posts on their sites. If you are unsure about what a specific site’s policies are, then be sure to look them up before you start posting. Although social media is mostly off-limits to cannabis companies, there are other ways to get around it and keep your social media alive. While cannabis is still a controversial topic, not all cannabis companies are prohibited from social media, just be cautious as to what you post and you should be good to go.