18 July 2016

Here’s the introduction to the piece that explores double standards and marijuana advertising…

Buzz Feed write..

People who sell medical and recreational cannabis in states where it’s legal have become accustomed to seeing their social media pages go dark unexpectedly. Selling or using cannabis for any reason is still federally illegal, and companies like Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Apple remain wary of being held liable for the pot content they allow users to post and promote.

But in the effort to prove they are not enabling the sale or promoting the recreational use of cannabis, Facebook and Google are also haphazardly censoring promotions for all kinds of other marijuana-related content, including news stories about racial disparities in pot arrests, links to sites selling legal paraphernalia, ads for TV shows and books about cannabis, and pages that provide information about the law. BuzzFeed News also found that small businesses seem to be disproportionately affected by inconsistencies in the enforcement of these policies, while larger and more mainstream companies advertising the same content remain unaffected.

A few weeks ago, prominent Denver cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg posted a link to a Colorado Public Radio story following up on a story initially reported by BuzzFeed News, about a state report showing that after Colorado legalized recreational use in 2012, marijuana arrests decreased among white adolescents but dramatically increased among blacks and Latinos.

When the law firm then tried to pay to boost their post so that more people would see it, Facebook denied the request, claiming that this news item about racial disparities in law enforcement was meant to “promote illegal drugs.”

When Colorado-based cannabis brand strategist Lauren Gibbs heard about this, she was upset but not surprised. Gibbs has worked with several major cannabis brands, including Women Grow, the largest cannabis industry networking organization in the country, and Willie’s Reserve, the upcoming line of cannabis products from folk singer Willie Nelson. As part of her ongoing campaign to #EndTheSocialCannaBan, Gibbs has been trying to get Facebook to allow cannabis businesses to advertise just as alcohol companies do, with age restrictions and geo-targeting that ensure only legal consumers in legal states see the ads.

“Through all the companies I work with in cannabis, it’s abundantly clear that while Facebook and Instagram have Terms of Service that prohibit promotion of recreational cannabis use, they are applied in a profoundly inconsistent way,” Gibbs said. “I’ve even had different results from nearly identical posts, with one approved and one denied.”

Gibbs felt that blocking a law firm from sharing a news story was even more absurd than shutting down the pages of licensed dispensaries and edibles companies, and so she tried to boost a post about the fact that this had happened.

“Facebook is supposed to be a medium for free speech around political change,” she said.

That boost was also denied.

Read the full article (and we advise you read all of it) at

https://www.buzzfeed.com/amandachicagolewis/facebook-and-google-cannabis-policy-enforcement-makes-no-sen?utm_term=.vuobPl1zw#.qj8pNPlDg