At least a handful of medical marijuana dispensaries in Tucson realized their Facebook pages had been deleted on Thursday, Feb. 4 by the social media site, according to the Daily Haze.
Facebook claimed they had banned the pages because the company does not allow any material that "condones drug use."
The Haze spoke to Tucson's Earth's Healing's marketing director, Florence Hijazi, who told the online publication that not having a Facebook page damages the dispensary's business, because their patients check their page on a daily basis for different specials and other updates. Hijazi also told the Haze that, in response to being kicked out of Facebook, Earth's Healing plans to focus more on their Twitter account and their phone app.
The move isn't exclusive to Tucson—there were pages deleted around the country, and dispensary owners seemed to be getting the same justification from Facebook, the Haze says.
"Your page is currently not visible on Facebook. It looks like content on your page does not follow the Facebook Community Terms and Standards."
"The site does not allow ads that promote the sale or use of . . . illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs."
The trend began back in 2014, when Instagram "heavily" deleted marijuana-themed accounts.
The Haze pointed out that two years ago, Tim Rathschmidt, a spokesperson for Facebook, told the Huffington Post: "The legality around the sale and use of marijuana greatly varies around the world, which is part of the reason why we strictly prohibit the promotion of the sale and use of the drug itself. The risk of attempting to allow ads promoting the drug in certain states or countries where it is legal is too high for us to consider at this time. However, we work pretty hard to differentiate ads promoting the sale or use of the drug versus ads promoting advocacy or the legalization of the drug. The latter is the type of content we do not want to censor through ads, and is widely considered different than something promoting the actual drug itself."
And, last year the San Francisco Chronicle reported that medical marijuana businesses were banned from iTunes and Instagram, too.
A spokesperson for Facebook and Instagram told the SF Chronicle at the time, "guidelines do not allow the promotion of the sale of illegal content. Once something is reported to us our teams review it, will remove it if it violations those policies, and in some cases we will disable the account."
But medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, as well as D.C. Why is Facebook using the anti-weed card to ban dispensaries that are obviously located in states where medicinal cannabis is allowed? In fact, Facebook's home state, California, could even legalize recreational marijuana this year.
The Weekly reached out to Facebook for additional comment, but did not hear back as of press time.