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Facebook No Longer Blocking Cannabis Pages

Emily Robertson
cannabis, Facebook, Facebook ban, Zuckerberg, USA, Canada, legalization, recreational cannabis, black markets, prohibition

For years, the hammer has been down on advertising cannabis on Facebook. Some cannabis pages have even been purged. Pressure has mounted, however, and FB is ready to meet with the times.

In recent months, the undue blocking of various cannabis pages on Facebook has met with increasing protest. With rec now legal in Canada, and in nine U.S. states, it no longer makes sense to harbor prohibitionist strategies on social media platforms. And finally, Facebook agrees.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it would stop blocking legal cannabis pages. It’s a hugely positive move for cannabis advocacy. Just prior to the legalization legislation coming to fruition in Canada, Facebook was pressured to rethink their policies.  Truly, blocking the pages of legal cannabis companies inhibits their business in a way that applies undue discrimination.  Facebook is the largest social network in the world and most business rely on accessing its global reach.

Why Block Cannabis Pages in the First Place?

Facebook’s main concern was black market sales. It was resource heavy to manage these, so FB simply blocked pretty much all cannabis pages from advertizing or promoting individual posts.

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Image credit: CBC

Except Most of Those Blocked Were Actually Legal

While there were definitely some issues of illicit sales on Facebook, the ban created other issues for cannabis pages that were conducting themselves in a 100% legal fashion. For instance, government pages, like the Ontario Cannabis Store, were blocked by Facebook’s stringent and poorly thought out measures. This raised serious concerns with federal Canadian legalization around the corner.

And it wasn’t just a Canadian issue. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control was also blocked by Facebook. While cannabis may not be legal federally in the U.S., it is legal in California. State residents could use Facebook to gain information on the product and legislation – but not if it was facing a block.

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Image credit: Horth Rasur

Other pages that weren’t government based, but are legal and prominent in the industry, were also facing issues. Pages like the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for cannabis education and policy changes, were experiencing issues with unreasonable blocking.

Ironically, anti-cannabis pages also felt the burn. Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a site that, to put it politely, doesn’t have the best outlook on cannabis legalization, also suffered from the block because it use ‘marijuana’ in its name.

The latter example makes it fairly obvious that Facebook had no form of filtering which pages should be blocked and which shouldn’t.

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Image credit: The Guardian

New Facebook Cannabis Policies

The revamp came just one week before Canada officially legalized recreational cannabis. The new policies will allow companies to have events, posts, and page names with cannabis – or a form of it – in them.  In addition, improved regulations will be in place to ‘verify’ the legality of these pages.

It’s about time. After all, there’s all sorts of regulations to determine the validity of celebrity pages – why did it take them so long to realize the same was needed for something as common as cannabis?

The sale of cannabis over Facebook and other social media platforms remains illegal.

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Image credit: Vancouver Sun

Canada was the first of the G7 and G20 nations to legalize recreational use, and only the second in the world, after Uruguay. The hope is that the United States is not far behind. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Meanwhile, 30 states have medical cannabis laws.

Beyond this, nations outside of the G7 and G20 have looked towards decriminalization and legalization. This year was the year of cannabis, as 15 Caribbean nations looked toward changing their cannabis prohibition laws in a historic meeting.

Now, with Facebook (hopefully) on track, it’s time for other social media platforms, like Instagram, to catch up. And at this point, they need to catch up with increasing legalization, or be left behind.

Emily Robertson

Emily Robertson has been writing freelance and contract work since 2011. She has written on a variety of topics, including travel writing of North America and the growing legalized cannabis industry across the globe. Robertson has a master’s degree in literature and gender studies, and brings this through in her writing by always trying to explore different perspectives. Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Robertson moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016 to undergo her doctorate in Scottish Literature. She lives in the West End with her dog, Henley.

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