Facebook Inc., will repeal its moratorium on cannabis and related search results, according to MarketWatch. Their decision comes just days before the legalization of adult recreational marijuana sales in Canada, on October 17.
“We are constantly working to improve our search results so that we minimize the opportunity for people to attempt illicit drug sales while showing content that is allowed on Facebook and is relevant to what you are searching,” Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Pollack relayed to MarketWatch. “When searching ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana,’ Pages that have been verified for authenticity will now be included in search results.”
Facebook has assigned color-coded designations that signal various enterprises. According to MarketWatch, gray confirmation is for businesses and organizations not eligible for the blue verification reserved for brands, celebrities and media companies.
The social media site will vet companies by providing their phone numbers, which Facebook will subsequently verify by providing a four-digit code which the company, in turn, must ascertain. This automated authentication method is similar to how Google authenticates app downloads on users’ mobile phones.
“Facebook’s policy change is reflecting the reality that marijuana is already legal in 9 states, Washington D.C. and will be legal in Canada next week. I realize its hard for some of these companies to adjust to the new reality. Facebook is experiencing what all institutions are going through —transitioning from when marijuana use was a crime to it being a legitimate enterprise. It isn’t reefer madness anymore,” said attorney Keith Stroup, Founder of NORML.
“The latest Gallup poll puts 65% —2/3 of Americans— supporting fully legalizing marijuana, even though only 14% are current users,” Stroup continues. “We are winning this issue because we have won the hearts of minds of nonusers. If people were using Facebook’s structure to sell pot, it’s understandable they tried to shut that down; but banning searches on the topic altogether was idiotic.”
Facebook banning marijuana pages has long been a source of consternation by its users, many of whom were subjected to having their pages unceremoniously deleted. In an attempt to circumvent deletion, many canna-businesses were forced to modify the language of their pages to reflect health and wellness, rather than cannabis itself.
Lemon Haze Cannabis Expo in Tacoma, Washington even put together a social media panel discussion on the topic.
“Every day, cannabis companies have to deal with their content being deleted by social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. On this panel, we will talk with cannabis influencers on how to survive and thrive on social media,” reads the panel description on Lemon Haze’s website.
Perhaps now that Facebook has decided to relinquish its restrictive stance on marijuana, other social media behemoths will follow suit.