Facebook has reportedly blocked a number of accounts run by medical marijuana dispensaries; for reasons it is yet to clarify.
Initial reports indicate the very recent activity has been mainly in relation to dispensaries situated in New Jersey; a state where medical cannabis is legal.
Following a link to one of the Facebook profiles in question returns this message:
“Sorry, this content isn’t available right now. The link you followed may have expired, or the page may only be visible to an audience you’re not in.”
A few other Facebook pages for dispensaries in New Jersey we tried were still active at the time of publishing. No doubt these medical cannabis businesses will be more than a little concerned at the moment.
According to NJ.com, one of the owners of the affected pages was presented with the following message when accessing their Facebook page:
“We remove any promotion or encouragement of drug use.”
“Your page is currently not visible on Facebook. It looks like content on your page does not follow the Facebook Community Terms and Standards.”
Facebook has reportedly declined to answer questions from NJ Advance Media (NJ.com) and referred it to Facebook’s community standards section.
Facebook’s standards state the following:
“We prohibit any attempts by unauthorized dealers to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, or firearms.”
Given the dispensaries affected are all licensed by the State of New Jersey, the move has made the situation even more baffling. Added to this is the issue of whether the Facebook pages were actively selling or just providing information.
Facebook is important to dispensaries as a communications medium. Legal medical marijuana businesses generally are already quite restricted as to how they can promote themselves, particularly online.
For example, when searching Google on the topic of medical cannabis; you won’t see any “Adwords” ads displaying.
Facebook also bans medical marijuana advertisements on its ad service – but the ban extends to prescription drugs as well.
“Ads must not promote the sale or use of the following:
Illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs;”
Twitter reportedly also bans medical marijuana advertising.
The New Jersey situation apparently isn’t the first sweep by Facebook – dispensaries in Maine and Washington have also had their pages removed; with one medical cannabis business owner hinting at legal action over the situation.