News and Best Practices

Cannabis and Social Media: Are Sites Enforcing Their Rules Fairly? [Part Two]

August 23, 2016
Editor’s note: This three-part series explores the status of cannabis and social media today and what you can do to make sure that you don’t see your hard work on social media evaporate with the click of a button. Last week, we reviewed three major social media sites and their policies that affect cannabis.

MassRoots is the leading social media platform for the cannabis industry, “committed to creating a judgement free network for cannabis enthusiasts to safely and openly express themselves.” MassRoots had an Instagram account with more than 300,000 followers, which Instagram shut down in January. This erased countless hours of hard work and prohibited MassRoots from being able to contact the followers that they painstakingly labored to gain.

When MassRoots attempted to contact Instagram, they were met with silence. When asked why they were shut down, Isaac Dietrich, MassRoots CEO, was unsure of their specific violations. He told Marijuana Business Daily, “I think the policy is set at a high level, but actual enforcement of the policy is left up to the ground troops, but what that does is it creates an unequal playing field.”

Similarly, Facebook’s actions have gone far beyond creating an unequal playing field and have become personal. Olivia Mannix, co-founder of the Cannabrand marketing agency, was quoted by The Guardian as saying, “They’ve begun deleting the profiles of the people running the pages.” Why are they taking such punitive actions against people in the industry?

Tom Rathschmidt, a spokesman for Facebook, said this in an interview with The Huffington Post: “The risk of attempting to allow ads promoting the drug in certain states or countries where it is legal is too high for us to consider at this time. However, we work pretty hard to differentiate ads promoting the sale or use of the drug versus ads promoting advocacy or the legalization of the drug. The latter is the type of content we do not want to censor through ads, and is widely considered different than something promoting the actual drug itself.” But this does not seem to be the case when considering other experiences people in the industry have had with the platform. So, it is best to be as careful as possible with how you use these platforms.

Regina Wells, co-founder of Durango Artisanal Tours of Durango, Colo., said they have an active Facebook page with live posts about cannabis. Their business is centered on giving visitors to Durango guided tours of the cannabis industry. As a result, they have a keen eye on the changing nature of cannabis laws, and are well-connected to a variety of cannabis businesses, including dispensaries.

According to Wells, “There is no rhyme or reason to who stays or gets pulled from social media. Or, if there is a reason given, it’s always a vague, one-sentence, cryptic explanation. This is extremely frustrating for companies because they want to follow the rules. But the rules are unclear, so it’s a shot in the dark as far as whether your page will be taken down or not.”

What can dispensary operators do to maximize their social media marketing? Check next week’s issue for the last part of this series.

By Loren Mayshark
Dispensary Management Today articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal guidance or advice on dispensary operations. You should contact an attorney or a qualified cannabis consultant for specific compliance and dispensary/retailing advice.
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