Instagram and cannabis have traditionally not mixed well together. Any marijuana advocate or business owner that has operated an Instagram account in the past can attest to struggling with trying to keep it online.
“It’s like a game of cat-and-mouse,” said Kevin Thompson, owner of Hemp Connect CBD Dispensary in Biloxi, Mississippi. “You have to put all kinds of disclaimers up there about how you’re not selling cannabis on your Instagram page and that it’s for adults 21 and older only.”
“It feels like their policy is constantly changing, though, and even if you’re following the rules you can still get kicked off.”
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Time to lighten up the rules
Thompson is one of a few hundred pro-cannabis advocates to ink his digital signature on a petition launched Wednesday urging Instagram to lighten its rules on cannabis. By doing so, advocates argue, people in the expanding marijuana industry will have opportunities to monetize their businesses and create content that serves a growing market of legal CBD and cannabis buyers.
Marijuana video platform WeedTube launched the petition in hopes of getting 1 million signatures. Instagram booted WeedTube in November of last year, which was the second time it had been taken off the social media platform. WeedTube founder decided the second strike was enough to act.
“We hope this petition can start a dialogue between Instagram and the legal cannabis industry to develop best practices so that we can promote our businesses in a safe and professional manner,” said Arend Richard, who founded the platform back in 2018 and now serves as its creative director.
Richard accuses Instagram and other popular social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube of targeting independent cannabis operators when cracking down on marijuana content. He claims the popular platforms give large multi-state corporations a metaphorical pass by letting them continue to promote their products and locations.
Recreational cannabis is permitted in 18 states and Washington D.C., and 36 states allow some form medical cannabis. Yet U.S. authorities still consider the plant a Schedule I drug with no recognized medical value, which is why companies in so many federally regulated industries — tech, banking and gaming to name a few — are so hesitant to get involved with cannabis operators.