Facebook may finally allow cannabis companies to talk about their products

Facebook, the social media behemoth, has long had a very strict anti-cannabis stance, including forbidding any discussion of buying and selling the “regulated good” on the site, significantly restricting the ability of companies in places where it is legal from promoting their products. They appear to be gradually loosening their stance on marijuana, however.

Last year, Facebook lifted a search moratorium for cannabis-related content, finally making cannabis companies visible to those searching for them. Now, the company is considering a change to its rule forbidding the discussion of buying and selling cannabis, according to an internal presentation attended by the Telegraph, the British newspaper.

"Our policies at the moment do not allow for the sale of marijuana on the platform,” Facebook employees said during the presentation. "We want to consider whether we can loosen this restriction, especially in relation to medical marijuana, legal marijuana, and brick and mortar stores."

The changes would only apply to normal Facebook posts, and not to paid advertisements or the Facebook online marketplace. Cannabis would remain off-limits in those places.

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Currently, Facebook does allow for the promotion, purchase, and sale of hemp or CBD products, but any product containing THC is strictly off limits. The company’s restrictions on posting about marijuana are wide reaching, and enforcement depends on an algorithm to determine who is complying and who is violating their rules. This can often lead to pages and accounts being routinely suspended or deleted on Facebook, or the company’s other platforms, like Instagram, for posting marijuana-related content, even if that content is in compliance with Facebook’s terms of use.

The Telegraph says Facebook has reportedly formed an internal working group to examine the ways in which its rules could be changed to accommodate discussion related to the purchase or sale of cannabis where it is legal, while respecting a patchwork of inconsistent laws around the world. While many U.S. states and countries around the world have legalized cannabis, there are still a multitude of places that punish users harshly, and with the global reach of Facebook, both scenarios must be accounted for. No final decisions have been made.

"Since marijuana faces different legal and social restrictions across the globe, this may be operationally challenging for us," said one employee. "[We] may encounter regional pushback in those areas of the world where the law or [society] views marijuana negatively."

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"Can we distinguish between legal brick and mortar sales of marijuana versus other types of [non-legal] marijuana sales?" asked another employee. "Basically, would we be able to draw that line sufficiently?"

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