Owners of legal medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the country have reported that their dispensary’s Facebook pages have unexpectedly been removed by the social media company.
“It seems high-handed to simply shut down important resources for sick patients without even saying why or giving organizations a way to ask for reconsideration,” Peter Rosenfeld, a registered medical marijuana patient in New Jersey told reporters.
Three of the Garden State’s five dispensaries had their Facebook pages shut down this week. And dispensary owners in Maine, Washington, and a handful of other places have made similar reports.
According to dispensary owners who had their pages removed, Facebook didn’t give them any advance notice, warning, or explanation.
When they tried to logon to their accounts, they were greeted by a message that said, “your page is currently not visible on Facebook. It looks like content on your page does not follow the Facebook Community Terms and Standards. We remove any promotion or encouragement of drug use,” and their profiles were gone.
Facebook’s Community Standards page says that it does not allow attempts to purchase or sell prescription drugs, marijuana, or guns on its site.
But the question all this raises is whether or not this policy refers to the legal selling of cannabis, as in the context of a state-approved, state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary.
Many involved in the legal cannabis industry—whether as patients or as providers—say that such policies should not extend to legal cannabis-related activities.
For example, many of those who rely on the dispensaries whose Facebook profiles were shut down say that social media sites like Facebook have become an important way for them to keep updated with their dispensaries and with the strains their dispensaries have available.
“What better use of a social media than having sites where parents of sick children can ask questions about medication and treatments?” Rosenfeld commented.
And from the dispensary owner’s perspective, many have pointed out that social media plays a crucial role in their business operations since there are state restrictions in place controlling the amount of advertising and other digital communications dispensaries can pursue.
“[Facebook is] incredibly important because the state limits what we can do on our website,” explained Michael Nelson, the general manager of a dispensary in New Jersey called Compassionate Sciences.
“[Facebook] allows us to post strain names, which allows people to do research. It allows the communication between the patients about what is working.”
In the wake of this week’s string of Facebook shut downs, dispensary owners have also asked why some dispensaries have been targeted while others have not. As of now, Facebook has not offered any detailed explanations or answers.