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Facebook Shuts Down New Jersey Medical Cannabis Pages

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Facebook has a love/hate relationship with cannabis. On one hand, Facebook’s founders have publicly supported several cannabis initiatives. On the other hand, Facebook’s advertising policies tell a different story. At least three of New Jersey’s five medical cannabis collectives were shocked to see that their Facebook pages had been shut down. Cannabis collectives in New Jersey have been allowed to operate since 2011. Censorship threatens to take away everything that cannabis advocates have worked so hard for.

Over 5,500 patients and 300 licensed physicians have registered with New Jersey’s medical cannabis program. This week, three dispensaries were removed from Facebook – Compassionate Sciences in Bellmawr, Garden State in Woodbridge, and Breakwater Treatment and Wellness in Cranbury.

Peter Rosenfeld is a member of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana – New Jersey. “It’s doing a real disservice to the patients of New Jersey,” Rosenfeld told the Chicago Tribune. “They’re treating it like they’re selling marijuana illegally when it’s a fully sanctioned nonprofit that’s controlled and regulated by the state of New Jersey.”

Facebook’s advertising policy bans the promotion and sales of guns, tobacco and drugs. Posting prohibited content can get you banned from Facebook. According to the guidelines “Ads must not constitute, facilitate, or promote illegal products, services or activities. Ads targeted to minors must not promote products, services, or content that are inappropriate, illegal, or unsafe, or that exploit, mislead, or exert undue pressure on the age groups targeted. Ads must not promote the sale or use of the following: Illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.”

Just a week ago, Facebook began cracking down on pages that promote and sell guns. Both gun control and cannabis are currently hot-button topics in America. Instagram uses the same criteria for prohibited content. “Over the last two years, more and more people have been using Facebook to discover products and to buy and sell things to one another,” Monika Bickert, who oversees Facebook product policies, wrote. “We are continuing to develop, test, and launch new products to make this experience even better for people and are updating our regulated goods policies to reflect this evolution.”

Amy Marie Keller suffers from Variegate Porphyria which causes seizures and intestinal problems. Keller says the most effective strains are Blackwater, Sour Diesel and Nigerian Haze. Collectives usually don’t have a constant supply of staple strains. She says she checks Facebook to see what strains are available. “Now I have no idea,” she said. “I tried calling but they didn’t pick up. Probably everybody is calling. I would hate to tie up their phone lines and bother them every morning about that.”

Aaron Epstein is the general manager and general counsel in New Jersey. “If Facebook doesn’t want to be a part of that, that’s their prerogative,” Epstein said. “We’ll find other avenues to get information to our patients.”

Last year Oakland-based Harborside Health was booted from Facebook after five years without complaints. Facebook sent them a message saying “We remove any promotion or encouragement of drug use.” Steve DeAngelo blasted Facebook after being told to file complaints about other violators. “Facebook wanted us to snitch on our fellow cannabis businesses,” DeAngelo told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’re not doing that. That goes against everything we stand for.”

Benjamin Adams

Benjamin Adams has been a journalist since 2006 and is the Californian correspondent for Cannabusiness.com.

His written work has been seen in Cannabis Now Magazine, Culture Magazine, and Treating Yourself Magazine. He’s also written for Merry Jane and MedicalMarijuana.eu

Benjamin studied Art and Argumentative Writing at the University of Utah.

He’s tried cannabis in places ranging from Copenhagen to Jamaica.

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