Even as the cannabis industry finally emerges from the shadows and becomes big business across many states, some aspects of the Internet aren’t being as welcoming of the change. Due to the patchwork of laws that vary state by state and even country by country, it is challenging to figure out what is legal and what isn’t when it comes to cannabis and advertising on the Internet. What are typically considered traditional means of advertisement for many companies – like Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and more – are still not sure how to handle legal cannabis businesses.
“Our policies at the moment do not allow for the sale of marijuana on the platform,” the Facebook presentation said, as reported by the Telegraph. “We want to consider whether we can loosen this restriction, especially in relation to medical marijuana, legal marijuana and brick-and-mortar stores.”
Facebook ads are a staple for most businesses when it comes to online marketing – but for cannabusinesses, this hasn’t turned out to be an effective avenue for long-term advertising. Unfortunately, since federal laws, state laws and international laws are all extremely different, Facebook (along with others) have settled on simply not allowing advertisements that promote cannabis businesses – even if those businesses are operating within all the laws in their state.
However, now that Canada has legalized cannabis on a national scale and more and more states are examining legalization more closely – and with medical marijuana available in over half of the U.S. – it seems that these websites are realizing an outright ban is unfair for businesses operating in a legal industry. It has been reported that Facebook has developed a working group to investigate how to enforce different policies in different states.
“Since marijuana faces different legal and social restrictions across the globe, this may be operationally challenging for us,” said one employee during the presentation. “[We] may encounter regional pushback in those areas of the world where the law or [society] views marijuana negatively.”
While there has yet to be any announcements, recommendations or formal plans to change the website’s cannabis policy, knowing that they are considering this change is a small step in the right direction. If Facebook were to revise their policy on cannabis advertising, the expected changes would likely be limited to allowing business pages with product information and purchasing information.
It’s probably still going to be some time before any formal changes are actually made to Facebook’s policy on cannabis advertising – but the fact that it’s something under consideration is certainly better than blindly continuing the online ban of legal cannabis businesses and their marketing efforts.