Facebook has been shutting down the pages of marijuana businesses around the country recently, and Colorado's cannabis outfits are no exception.
Earlier this month, High Times reported that three of New Jersey's five state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries found their Facebook pages deleted, and the shutdowns quickly spread to other legal marijuana states, such as Arizona, Maine, Oregon and Washington.
Some of the biggest dispensary chains in Colorado also had their pages deleted, including the Clinic, LivWell, Sweet Leaf and the Green Solution.
"We were understandably disappointed to find that our Facebook page was unpublished, as it is an important tool for interacting with our customers and patients. We have published a new LivWell Enlightened Health Facebook page, and moving forward we will do our best to comply with Facebook's guidelines as we understand them," says Matt Givner, director of marketing at LivWell.
Facebook's move affected more than dispensaries. Marijuana-infused product manufacturers also lost pages. Pot-infused transdermal patch-maker Mary's Medicinals had to create a new, education-oriented page after its first one disappeared: "Facebook decided to delete our page and nearly 20k followers, so let's try this again. Please share with your friends so they can re-follow us! Thanks for all of your support and reviews!!!" the company said in a statement on its new Facebook page.
According to Facebook, no policies have changed; the company is simply following its standards on content violations.
"In order to maintain a safe environment on Facebook, we have Community Standards that describe what is and is not allowed on the service. Anyone can report content to us if they think it violates our standards," says a Facebook spokesperson. "Our teams review these reports rapidly and will remove the content if there is a violation."
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Facebook's Arielle Aryah cites two points in those standards that affected the marijuana businesses. "Facebook does not allow content that promotes the sale of marijuana regardless of state or country," she says. "This includes marijuana dispensaries. We do allow marijuana-advocacy content as long as it is not promoting the sale of the drug."
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The Facebook moves don't mean that every dispensary or marijuana business in Colorado has found its page deleted. Several dispensaries' pages remained online because they don't post info about products for sale, availability or other commercial promotions.
"We often post educational graphics about our strains, links to pertinent articles and information about certain products that may or may not be for sale at the shop," says one dispensary owner who asks to remain anonymous. "But if we want to promote a deal or our menu, we don't do it in a Facebook post. The most we'll do is post a link to Leafly."
Most of Colorado's marijuana businesses that found their pages deleted have already created new pages and profiles in hopes of regaining their followers.
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