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Facebook Cause a Stir by Removing Several Medical Marijuana Dispensary Pages

While marijuana is technically legal in a number of states across the US, the national legality of it is still somewhat murky. It can be legally sold in dispensaries, sometimes only with a prescription, sometimes for recreational use, depending where you are, but it's still a schedule 1 substance as far as the feds are concerned.

This makes advertisement and promotion a lot more difficult, dispensary websites tend to be very limited, there's a long list of things they can't do, and what they can do often has an asterisk hanging over it. A lot of them have relied on Facebook as a means to sidestep a lot of these restraints, but now dispensary pages have started getting removed by the site moderators, owing to community guideline violations. This is happening more with dispensaries in New Jersey than anywhere else, seemingly because it's only legal medicinally there.

Said guidelines prohibit any sale or promotion of drug use, something which even extends to pharmaceutical drugs. There's another phrase nestled within that policy that I haven't mentioned though: 'unauthorised dealers'. Taking that into account, fully licensed dispensaries shouldn't fall prey to this clause, but it seems like Facebook are basing their perspective on federal law, rather than state law.

While it might not seem like such a contentious issue, if you're a patient with a prescription for medicinal marijuana, it most certainly is. Regulations prevent dispensaries from posting which strains they stock on their websites, causing a lot of them to list them on Facebook instead. Medical users often need a specific strain, or group of strains, so knowing which dispensaries stock the one they need is vitally important.

What Facebook also offers is the chance for patients to communicate remotely and openly with their suppliers, giving them information on what works and what doesn't. Facebook isn't the only place where this could be done, but it's certainly the most convenient, and if dispensaries have to openly declare that another particular platform is their conduit of choice, it could put a barrier between them and the patients who don't use the platform in question.

Facebook appear to simply be covering their bases, but this blanket approach to content removal has landed them in hot water in the past, either because they removed too much content or too little. As painstaking as it might be, they need to adopt a more case-by-case approach with the enforcement of their guidelines to avoid inviting any further controversy. The breast-feeding fiasco was bad enough, but this is actually preventing people from getting important information about their medication, it's not Facebook's responsibility to address that, but it is their obligation, especially considering how hard they've worked to help people in other circumstances.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Facebook Cause a Stir by Removing Several Medical Marijuana Dispensary Pages Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, February 05, 2016 Rating: 5

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