folder Filed in Business, Legal
When Facebook Rejects Cannabis Advocacy Ads
Peter Cervieri

On June 12th, we’re hosting an event in LA about the future of medical cannabis in California. Given that adult use is legal, as voted by citizens in the state of California in November 20216, and the regulated adult use market comes online in January 2018, we believe it is important to evaluate what will happen to patients who rely on cannabis as a medicine. Will there be dispensaries nearby to dispense their medicine? Will the medicine they currently rely on be available? Will it increase in price?

I tried to run an ad on facebook to create awareness for the event to those who live in the LA area, are over 21, and and are interested in cannabis.

Facebook rejected my ad.

First off, here’s the event if you want to attend. It includes a doctor from UCLA who runs the UCLA Cannabinoid Affinity Group (CAG), which brings together a group of multidisciplinary UCLA basic, translational, and clinical investigators to map out research into how cannabis and cannabinoids affect the human body and interact with the human endocannabinoid system, and the president of the California Cannabis Manufacturers Association, which has been working with the governors office as it tries to reconcile and regulate the medical and adult use markets.

Here’s the ad I posted.

Here’s facebook’s rejection. Evidently, I’m promoting illegal drugs, which they frown on.

Here’s my response.

I argued that the event is a medical event related to a legal medicine in the state where facebook is headquartered. In fact, I bet many facebook employees have legal medical cannabis prescriptions. I certainly believe that our event falls within the advocacy bucket. It’s a discussion on a topic at a location where cannabis will not be consumed. I’d argue that it’s a first ammendment right to talk about a topic. The ad isn’t encouraging anyone to smoke anything.

Still rejected.

June 9th Update

Props to Twitter. After getting rejected by Facebook, I decided to try to run a twitter ad for our medical cannabis educational event. After a few days in review limbo, the ad was finally approved this morning and is currently live and running. Interestingly, I used the word “cannabis” in the actual twitter text copy, rather than just in the photo.

Here’s the ad, in all its glory.

And the approval, which made my morning.

  1. I have had similar experiences, multiple times, for cannabis-themed events that were educational and/or political in nature. We’re not talking about on-site consumption or dabfests. We’re talking about simply talking about cannabis, and Facebook’s ad gnomes can’t pick up the difference.

    In Facebook’s (lame) defense, banks can’t tell the difference either. Whether you actually handle or sell cannabis should be the only things at issue when a business denies you service over perceived conflicts with federal law. Your compliance with state law should not be treated as an afterthought, and yet it is.

    Cannabis licensing may be in its infancy, but social media platforms are not. The disconnect is damaging and palpable. Countless cannabis groups and pages exist on Facebook, so arguably FB already has its hands dirty by allowing such shameless and potentially illegal conduct to occur on its watch. Where FB seems to draw the line is taking money from anything with “cannabis” loosely attached to it, without even bothering to pull up the metadata to see what type of event or service is being advertised. Is it illegal for Facebook to do this? Maybe so, maybe not, but there’s no arguing that it’s poor customer service and that state-compliant advertisers deserve better treatment than this.

Comments are closed.