A few Facebook bigwigs and executives are rolled up in the totally legal California cannabis industry, including former Facebook president Sean Parker who donated to the California recreational marijuana ballot measure. But Facebook itself is still rather paranoid about promoting ganja on its platform, and as the Associated Press reports several fully legal recreational marijuana businesses have had their Facebook pages shut down in recent weeks.
While the latest crop of trimmings have all been marijuana dispensary pages in Alaska (which is a recreational use state), NBC News reported earlier this year that dispensaries’ Facebook pages have been getting shut down in at least six other legal-cannabis states. Facebook has cited violations of “community standards.” but it is somewhat ironic that the Alaska dispensary pages were shut down precisely during Mark Zuckerberg’s recent visit to Alaska on his Definitely Not Running for President tour.
"That's what kills me," executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association Cary Carrigan told the Alaska Dispatch News. "Zuckerberg shows up and Facebook pages are down."
Facebook’s community standards guidelines do specifically call out marijuana sales as a no-no. “We prohibit any attempts by private individuals to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, firearms or ammunition,” the guidelines say. Operating a dispensary page on Facebook could ostensibly be classified as an attempt to sell marijuana on the platform, though a cursory Facebook search shows that several San Francisco dispensaries do still have active Facebook pages.
Facebook is not obliged to give pages to dispensaries, and they do have legal exposure since marijuana is still federally illegal. “Publishing ads for an illegal item might expose Facebook to liability,” Santa Clara law professor Eric Goldman told Law.com. “Facebook is the publisher and they can decide what to publish.”
Still, you wish Facebook cared as much about weeding out fake news as they do about weeding out weed dispensaries.