Petition urges Instagram to stop targeting marijuana businesses

(This story has been updated to correct Bess “Cannabess” Byers’ name.)

Several thousand people have signed a petition urging Instagram to stop deactivating pages for cannabis businesses and marijuana-related content.

Cannabis firms have reported Instagram – and its owner, Facebook – target marijuana content and deactivate accounts without notice.

A Seattle-based cannabis photographer and social media influencer, Bess “Cannabess” Byers, created the petition after her Instagram account was twice deactivated. At its height, her account had 90,000 followers.

The petition asks Instagram to:

  • Update its terms of use to reflect changing cannabis laws. Currently, Instagram does not allow accounts to promote the purchase or sale of illegal or prescription drugs, even if those drugs are regulated by the state.
  • Stop targeting legal cannabis businesses, marijuana advocates and influencers.
  • Allow cannabis-related pages to promote posts and be verified.
  • Provide more transparency around its terms of use.

Dr. Norm’s, a California cannabis-infused cookie maker, saw its Instagram page deleted last month after having spent more than 18 months building its following to 6,000 users, paying a social media director and investing thousands of dollars in content creation.

Instagram is a useful tool for Dr. Norm’s to communicate and interact with its audience and repost customer testimonials, observed Jeff Koz and Roberta Koz Wilson, the siblings who own the company.

Roberta Koz Wilson noted that Instagram provided no explanation as to why the page was removed without notice.

“We made a huge investment that was wiped out,” Jeff Koz said. “But what are our choices?

“To not rebuild means you’re not in the game. So, I guess we start over and try to be more careful.”

5 comments on “Petition urges Instagram to stop targeting marijuana businesses
  1. Doc on

    Stealth Prohibition is thriving!

    Instagram has hardly taken a courageous stand. But clearly there is still a federal policy aimed at having a chilling influence on any service provider for even thinking the word “marijuana.”

    Reply
  2. Bri on

    I am signing! I work as a social media manager for a cannabis creative agency and three of our clients have been targeted and their Instagram pages have all been deactivated with no explanation other than we were “violating Instagram’s Terms of Use”. We always have abided our states marketing laws and never post about sales. Our work is more based on destigmatizing the industry and showing positive imagery.

    We have been appealing for two weeks now, sending at least 20+ appeals per page every day. No response. It is mindblowing that Facebook and Instagram target our industry.

    Here’s to hoping things get better soon! Thank you for writing this article.

    Reply
  3. Alyssa Zamudio on

    Please stop hindering cannabis business’ growth on Instagram and Facebook. Dispensaries do not sell anything online, and therefore they should not be prone to these violations. We show the products we have available so our followers know our daily deals and new products. We have never used our platform to promote drug use, but it is optional for adults (and medical patients) who would like to come into our store to purchase these items. It is unfair for us to put time into social media when we could be deleted at any time. I acknowledge all the community standards and we still are removed with little to no explanation.

    Reply

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