Lighting up a joint is now legal in some form in 30 states, but posting your smoke sesh could still get you kicked off social media. As draconian as it sounds, that’s what some users on Instagram and other platforms say has happened to them. Seattle-based photographer Bess Byers, who has more than 94,000 followers, started a petition to protest her IG account @imcannabess being shut down twice in August. More than 15,000 people have signed the petition, which asks Instagram to update their terms of service to “reflect changing cannabis laws,” “stop targeting legal businesses” and “end the censorship and suppression of cannabis content.”
Byers’ weed-themed account, which features shots of grows and people toking, was eventually reactivated after it was “disabled by mistake,” but another cannabis activist had her hemp cafe’s account disabled around the same time. When it was reactivated, Jodie Emery told Marijuana.com that she received the same email as Byers stating her account was shut down “by mistake.” Instagram isn’t the only platform accused of censoring marijuana content; Loaded Up Entertainment was deleted from YouTube earlier this year for posting weed-related videos, including one about the best munchies to eat while stoned.
Numerous Bay Area dispensaries have had profiles for years without any issues, raising questions of what makes these companies act on certain accounts. YouTube prohibits videos that show “drug abuse, underage drinking and smoking,” but videos showing how to manicure homegrown buds are arguably more informative than pro-drug propaganda. Facebook also has inconsistent criteria for ganja; Weedmaps is greenlighted to promote themselves on Facebook, but last year the social media giant got in hot water for deleting the pages of several licensed dispensaries in Alaska.
Spotty guidelines have pushed some canna-thusiasts to create their own platforms; Mass Roots is a hybrid of marijuana news and dispensary advertising platform that bills itself as a social media website, but an even newer network just popped up. Smoke Network plans to stop reefer censorship with blockchain technology somewhat like Bitcoin, letting weed content be safely stored without any chance of removal or revision by outsiders. They also promise to reward people who contribute to the network with cryptocurrency; upvoted users also receive part of the network’s daily rewards, encouraging further participation. The network is currently giving away free SMOKE coins for registering; those interested can sign up at Smoke.Network.