New Jersey marijuana dispensaries say Facebook has unfairly banned their business pages. The fight highlights how inconsistent Facebook’s policy towards prescription drugs is.
NJ.com reported on the shutdown:
Officials from Breakwater Wellness and Treatment Center in Cranbury and Compassionate Sciences Alternative Treatment Center in Bellmawr said their home pages were shut down Tuesday. When they tried to use their home page, they found an electronic message that said: “We remove any promotion or encouragement of drug use.”
“Your page is currently not visible on Facebook. It looks like content on your page does not follow the Facebook Community Terms and Standards.”
When NJ Advance Media contacted Facebook, the company declined to comment, instead referring the media to its Community Standards page. I’ve also contacted Facebook about this policy, so I’ll update if it gives me a different answer.
Facebook’s Community Standards page does ban selling drugs without authorization. But it does not ban the pages of authorized drug vendors, so referring the dispensaries to this paragraph is strange, as the vendors are legal in New Jersey:
We prohibit any attempts by unauthorized dealers to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, or firearms. If you post an offer to purchase or sell alcohol, tobacco, or adult products, we expect you to comply with all applicable laws and carefully consider the audience for that content. We do not allow you to use Facebook’s payment tools to sell or purchase regulated goods on our platform.
Searching “marijuana dispensary” on Facebook pulls up plenty of other legal medical marijuana dispensary business pages. This was not a sweeping policy change where Facebook banished groups en masse.
If Facebook is categorizing medical marijuana dispensaries as “unauthorized” because marijuana sales are illegal under federal law, why wouldn’t it be far more aggressive at taking pages down? Why only target a tiny subsection? If that’s the stance, every single dispensary page in the US would violate the Community Standards.