The fight to stop cannabis censorship rages on with Weedmaps trolling social media giants and a WeedTube petition calling for a sit-down with them. Ahead of the Super Bowl, cannabis tech site, Weedmaps, posted their #SaveBrockOllie ad. Supposedly, it was a 2022 Super Bowl advertisement candidate but “the network declined the request” to air the commercial.
“There’s an irony in the fact that the biggest night in advertising will feature an array of consumer brands in regulated industries, from beverage alcohol to sports betting, yet legal cannabis retailers, brands, and businesses have been boxed out.”-Weedmaps CEO, Chris Beals
Whether it’s intentional or not, the timing is ironic. This week, just short of a month after, author and CEO of The WeedTube, Arend Richard, shared a petition demanding better regulation and policies from Instagram surrounding the legal cannabis industry. Started officially by The WeedTube, the petition tackles a lot of points that Weedmaps brought up in their video.
While Weedmaps’ BrockOllie struggles with his internet identity crisis alongside Pot and Leaf, the advertisement shows the lengths you have to go to concealing something legal. Of course, it’s buried in a handful of corny puns about smoking weed. The point is, no one can actually say “weed” online! Cannabis can skirt by Google at times because it is considered a scientific term. The specific rules on that are as foggy as ever. That also isn’t the case for any of the leading social media platforms. Even using certain hashtags of phrases associated with cannabis can land you in trouble. This is all despite not promoting the sale of or consuming cannabis.
The fact that we have to jump through literary hoops for algorithms when cannabis is legal has been an issue far too long. Here is where The WeedTube comes in.
THE WEEDTUBE PETITION
Arend Richard has been fighting cannabis censorship for some years now after his account was removed from YouTube. With the help of other deleted ex-YouTubers, they launched The WeedTube as a cannabis-friendly social media platform free of censorship. Unfortunately, that haven has come under fire as the Apple and Google Play stores had it removed. After consistently fighting the advertising and social media giants, he set his sights on the root of the problem.
Yesterday, Richard created a petition which “demands better regulation and policies from Instagram… in hopes of attaining better regulations and policies regarding cannabis, from Instagram specifically.” In the past, Instagram wouldn’t allow The WeedTube’s page to link back to its website. This was the beginning of a foray of problems like shadowbans and full account deletion. Richard is questioning why the industry is guarded from the biggest marketing tool of the century. He even goes further into detail on the hypocrisy of censorship in a blog post.
“With social media marketing becoming standard for 92.1% of marketers of companies with more than 100 employees in 2022, one can confidently say that companies need social media marketing to be successful. The current bias of deletion and regulation on Instagram suggests that the only companies that will be allowed success on the platform are those who can pay to play.”
“CALL CANNABIS WHAT IT IS”
At the moment, the petition addressed to Adam Mosseri is nearing its first milestone. The WeedTube needs help from all of us to right this wrong. Instagram has made it a point to stomp out rampant cannabis content creators. We should make it a point to not go quietly.
At the end of the day, the censorship has driven the community to evolve and adapt like no other. Even in the adaptation, we are denied success. If weren’t allowed to participate in your platform, at least afford is the option to create our own. As BrockOllie laments: “Cannabis is here to stay and that’s great. But can we just call it what it is?”