Instagram Targets Marijuana Business, Shuts Down Weed-Related Accounts

Business

Marijuana-related business has a long road ahead in its quest for widespread acceptance as legitimate venture. Any entrepreneur knows that a strong social media presence is an integral piece of their marketing strategy; networking sites like Facebook and the -owned app Instagram provide a low cost method for interacting with fans and customers, lowering the barrier to entry for small businesses and creating a platform that adds credibility to their practice. 

Web services like these have become so important that some enterprising individuals center entire campaigns within the digital realm. But what happens when, all of a sudden, despite months of operating otherwise, Apple deems that your app fails to operate within their guidelines or Instagram decides they do not like the looks of your weed-themed account? Well, that can end up screwing a lot of people over, considering how much web traffic that marijuana-related content a is responsible for. 

This issue is just one more point of contention while weed hangs in some kind of limbo, becoming murkier the wider you attempt to generalize its legalization. Recreational use arguments aside, there is no doubt as to the validity of medical marijuana. Instagram's community guidelines contain this bit that may seem applicable otherwise:

"Offering sexual services, buying or selling illegal or prescription drugs (even if it's legal in your region), as well as promoting recreational drug use is also not allowed."

So smoking medical marijuana and posting it online might be considered the promotion of recreational drug use if viewed outside a state where it is legal, but that is a stretch. More fascinating is that cannabis dispensaries have become the target of shutdowns — not just individuals. Those businesses purport themselves as nothing but legitimate. Even so, their means of self-promotion can be swept out from beneath them with zero notice. 

That is a bit backwards, especially considering that the entities that drive the majority of weed traffic (i.e., High Times, Leafly, etc.) have not been subject to account takedowns at all.