Lawyer up: Why is it so hard to promote cannabis online (and everywhere else)?

By Laura Bianchi | Merry Jane

Anything goes on the Internet, it seems – except when it comes to cannabis. Over the past month, many producers of cannabis-related YouTube channels have seen their carefully curated accounts shut down. Those impacted have ranged from Marihuana Television in Spain and Urbanremo in Canada to U.S. cannabis website Leafly.

It’s the latest in a series of online cannabis prohibitions and purges that have those in the movement crying foul. In 2016, Facebook pulled the plug on the pages of dozens of cannabis dispensaries around the country, and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, did likewise. Facebook and Google have also steadfastly refused to allow cannabis-related marketing on their all-important digital ad networks.

What gives? Cannabis, after all, is now legal for medical use in 29 states and adult use in 9 states and the District of Columbia. And in many of these fiercely-competitive new markets, cannabis brands sorely need these digital platforms to stand out from the crowd, while cannabis activists have important educational and informative messages to disseminate far and wide. Plus, don’t companies like Facebook and Google (which owns YouTube) want the potential ad revenue associated with legal cannabis, one of the fastest-growing industries in the country? Finally, what about free speech?

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Laura Bianchi is a Partner and Director of Medical Cannabis at Rose Law Group.

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