Weed shops across the country have many battles to face on a regular basis. Limited advertising has always been one of them. That issue has been compounded recently by social media restrictions that have emerged and hindered the way that weed shops communicate with their customers. Facebook in particular has presented itself to be a problem in this department with its latest actions involving shutting down the pages of legal weed shops in Alaska that are attempting to make themselves known and available to their customers.
Facebook’s Behavior Has Precedent
This isn’t the first time Facebook has shut down marijuana related pages. Over the years they have even attempted to shut down the pages of medical marijuana stores that were using their pages to communicate to patients, allowing them to keep up to date on strain availability and other information pertaining to treating specific conditions. Facebook has been known to shut down other pages for legal weed shops around the country in several states. Now Alaska has reported that at least six weed shops have had their accounts turned off without warning.
Action Against Promotion of Marijuana Sales
Facebook officials have made it clear that their policy firmly communicates what users can and can’t post and they claim that the promotion of marijuana sales is strictly prohibited. The policy remains true regardless of whether the page is coming from a state where the plant is legal or not. Some shops over the years have been able to re-establish their pages after contacting the company. It’s possible that Alaskan weed shops will have some luck by taking this form of action although nothing is guaranteed. According to Taylor West, the deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association
, some companies who reached out to Facebook had their pages restored while others never heard back a single word.
Facebook has dealt with some controversy as of late while the company struggles to clean up their platform and specifically attempt to reduce the amount of violent material and hate speech from the site. Twitter is also attempting to reduce violent or aggressive behavior from its site. Though the majority of U.S. citizens have embraced the potential health benefits of marijuana, actions aimed at shutting down the pages of legal weed shops could reflect Facebook’s efforts to improve their public image.
The Impact a Page Closure Has on Weed Shops
Closing down the pages of weed shops can have devastating effects on the businesses given that most forms of marijuana advertising are illegal. The plant itself, however, is legal for recreational purposes in Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine and Washington D.C. It is also legal for medicinal purposes in 29 states. Nonetheless, it remains illegal on a federal level with the DEA refusing to change the classification from the strictest Schedule I status last August. As a result, the plant remains illegal on a federal level, in the same category as heroin and LSD.
Until the federal status of the plant changes, weed shops will likely continue to deal with ongoing issues, from banking restrictions to advertising issues. Several bipartisan bills are currently being reviewed that seek to change the federal status of marijuana but, unless they pass, weed shops will need to keep navigating through a tricky legal terrain. With most of the country in favor of legalization, however, it is bound to change sometime soon.