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Why Social Media Hates the Cannabis Community

Why Social Media Hates the Cannabis Community

“Hey Jeff, you might want to try a hit of this…”

Sit back, relax, and inhale some smooth cannabis smoke.

Here’s the roller coaster tale of the cannabis community’s growth and persistence on social media despite being shadow-banned, having their accounts deleted, and getting slapped with bad algorithms.

A History of Prohibition Offline

Though humans have cultivated cannabis for over 2500 years, the skunky green plant is notorious for having lots of haters.

Cannabis’s bad reputation spread across American households when the federal government classified ganja as a Schedule 1 drug in 1974.

Despite the prohibition of weed, the cannabis community continued to expand. Dedicated growers tended to their beloved cannabis plants, helping people with cancer, AIDs, and epilepsy. At the same time, scientists conducted research on marijuana’s therapeutic properties.

State governments took notice of the medicinal benefits of cannabis. In 1996, California legalized medical marijuana. And now in 2022, 37 states have legalized weed for medical use. 🍄

They also took notice of the profitability of recreational cannabis. Weed is legal in 18 states for recreational consumers – and it seems like many more states are on the cusp of legalizing it for their residents too.

Even though the federal government has yet to budge on cannabis classification status, its recent actions sparked massive growth in the cannabis industry.

In 2018, the federal government passed the Farm Bill, which legalized the sale of hemp-derived products across the US. The only stipulation? They had to contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC (the chemical compound in weed that gets you high).

Suddenly, the market exploded with all kinds of products infused with cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, CBN, and Delta-8 THC.

This introduced many Americans to hemp-derived products for the first time – and they would ultimately fall in love. With the advent of new cannabis products and technology, plus a ton of people interested in trying them, the cannabis community quickly expanded.

And what better place to advertise these innovative products and connect with customers than on social media platforms? 🍄

Or so they thought.

Shadow-Banning

The cannabis community has it rough on social media.

Have you ever noticed that some of your favorite cannabis content creators have back up accounts in case their main one gets deleted? Or that seemingly innocuous posts of beautiful buds get taken down without warning? Have you seen cannabis content creators write things like “21+” and “nothing for sale,” on their posts or bios?

A shadow-ban occurs when a social media platform blocks users from seeing content. This typically happens after the user reaches a larger following or posts content that receives a lot of traction. A shadow-ban makes it harder for users to find your content and can render an account invisible to the algorithm.

Though the cannabis community has gone global with the rise of social media platforms, social media platforms continue to live in the Dark Ages.

While cannabis influencers, brands, dispensaries, and consumers can instantly connect at the click of a button, social media platforms like Meta, Instagram, and TikTok don’t make it easy.

Since cannabis is federally illegal in the US, social media platforms are exceptionally particular about the way it can be presented. Oftentimes, the rules are shady and aren’t applied equally to everyone. 🍄

This is frustrating for cannabis brands like MasonBrite, who had been posting content for 3 years before reaching 10k followers. Hitting this big follower number didn’t change MasonBrite’s content strategy at all, but Instagram took notice and arbitrarily shadow-banned the account.

On the same day MasonBrite was shadow-banned, cannabis content creator Jackey420 was also shadow-banned. With over 800k followers, Jackey has gained notoriety throughout the cannabis community for his enthusiasm about erasing the negative stigma towards cannabis in Asian cultures. But this wasn’t the first time Jackey had been targeted by a social media platform. Jackey had originally posted his cannabis comedy on Youtube, but moved towards the Instagram platform when the video streaming giant began its purge of cannabis accounts.

Cannabis influencer Bess Byers (@Cannabess) has had her instagram account deleted over 12 times for violating the platform's Terms of Service. But this recurring setback won’t stop her and others in the community from posting about cannabis.

Instead, cannabis content creators forge a path forward by navigating the various obstacles presented by obstinate social media platforms in different ways.

Though Twitter seems to be the most lenient platform regarding cannabis content; TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram are dangerous territory for cannabis businesses that depend on social media for advertising.

What Cannabis Content Can Be Posted on Social Media?

All cannabis content is a no-go on Facebook. Its mother company, Meta, lets some ganja content slide on Instagram. 🍄

Brands, dispensaries, and influencers have to be super careful about the types of cannabis content they post on Instagram. They don’t want to be penalized through shadow-banning, account deletion, or the removal of their posts.

So how does the cannabis community avoid getting victimized by the algorithm?

By following the rules (which, like we mentioned before, are applied inconsistently).

The first rule is to not engage in the promotion of marijuana. So brands and dispensaries may post pictures of their products, but they cannot discuss their benefits. Essentially, all they can do is take a picture of the product and state its name. Of course, there may be some businesses that get away with discussing their products in more depth, but that’s because the platform does not catch everything. Additionally, brands and dispensaries cannot show content where people are actively imbibing marijuana. 🍄

Similarly, consumers can post content of cannabis products they have purchased, but they should be careful not to post content of them consuming cannabis.

Even if they do follow every rule, many businesses and creators have backup accounts just in case they do get banned.

The Takeaway

So many people work in the rapidly-expanding cannabis industry. It’s silly for social media platforms like Meta to indiscriminately apply rules to the cannabis community, especially when so many lives depend on it.

The US government’s federal legalization of cannabis or its reclassification from a Schedule 1 drug may be the only ways to stop the discrimination of cannabis creators and businesses on social media platforms.

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Comments

Bob - March 7, 2022

My social media experience has been pretty good one so far not to many bumps in the road.. but we all know how that goes eventually lol.. overall I’m glad for the friends and connections that I was able to make. 🤟

Solox3 - March 7, 2022

Social media for me has alot interesting growers, I love learning the different techniques to growing, I have met alot of friends

Raymahl Sutton - March 3, 2022

I’ve had a great experience with commenting and chatting about cannabis, however I have not posted much due to fear of being deleted or shadow banned. I really wish social media owners were more understanding but the community is amazing.

Twitter: Raymahl / Discord: Astroray

Scabby_Taint - March 2, 2022

I am known as Investmenttalk3 on Twitter. My talk revolves around the passions of my investments of time; politics, finances, and growing cannabis. I am a stage 3 cancer survivor 3 years post chemo.

Posting about the magic of growing helped me stop the 24//7 triggering anger, politics used to bring when I was only about that. I found myself joyfully talking about beauty when discussing cannabis, rather than burning the ashes of modern day politics. I am happier, laughing with good people rather than arguing with ugly ones. It was a welcome reprieve. I was healthier and happier. Now I see twitter banning people for talking about growing a plant in their own home, just like they did with political views they disagreed with like some kind of thought police. It disappoints me beyond words. Freedom? Ya right, not on social media. Probably just leave twitter once they ban me again.

Joshua - March 2, 2022

I have met a lot of good people in the cannabis industry through social media joined some discord servers good vibes for the most part
Discord:millcityhustla

Kyle Even - March 2, 2022

My experience with reddit and Discord and Instagram has been up and down. Ive met alot of good people and had alot of issues with the community being frowned upon by outsiders. The canna family is extremely loyal and is very supportive of one another in my experience. Alot of info has been passed down which has alot been helpful.

CanuckleBudz - March 1, 2022

Social media has been an interesting experience for sure as I have seen a lot of drama as well as lots of cool people. I have connected with tons of growers who I would not have otherwise though so overall it has been a positive one.

BusterWolf#5764

NaturesHealing - March 1, 2022

Social media Has been an uphill battle for social media influencers. Can reach several thousand followers and loose your account with no warning out no where! It’s also important which connects the community and helps people learn from other growers. If it wasn’t for social media I wouldn’t be half the cultivator I am today from all of the advice I’ve gotten from amazing people. If these platforms would just let us be and leave us alone like any other community, everything would be kosher. Just wish I didn’t have to hide behind a fake name such as NaturesHealing so I don’t get my door kicked in by propaganda loving cannabis hating pigs at gun point bc this plant is just so dangerous they feel the need to save myself from it …. Would really like for the community to be able to know who I actually am behind this profile…. One day…. Hopefully….

Melissa's Medicated - March 1, 2022

For me it’s been educational so many people with some much knowledge of awesome I’m a medical user and generally a homebody loner with social media I have a life outside of the house I love the cannabis community some of the coolest people discord, Twitter and IG Melissa’s Medicated 😘

Logan - March 1, 2022

Social media and cannabis are a nightmare. You can’t promote sales on FEDERALLY LEGAL hemp products. It’s crazy, however I will say since 2008 and legalization here (CO), things have slowly improved. As we see people like CustomGrow420 head out the door, it’s important we look forward to channels like bubbleman and canuck. Instagram is a beast unto its own, and you covered it quite well. Looking forward to your next posts <3 (mushman#0011)

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