Meta—the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and the new social network Threads—has updated its cannabis advertising policy to permit the promotion of non-ingestible CBD products, with limitations, and also loosen restrictions on hemp ads.
The social media conglomerate said in a notice on Tuesday that CBD products containing up to 0.3 percent THC, which meets the federal definition of legal hemp, can be advertised if they meet certain conditions.
Businesses can promote the sale of CBD if they receive written approval from Meta and if the products are certified with the payment compliance company Legitscript and comply with local laws. Ads must also not target people under 18.
Meta’s policy for advertising non-ingestible hemp products (e.g. hemp fiber or seeds) has also been revised, making it so businesses no longer need written approval to promote the sale of such items in the U.S., Canada and Mexico “provided that they comply with all applicable local laws, required or established industry codes and guidelines.”
Also, it is now permissible to run hemp-related ads that “educate, advocate, or give public service announcements related to CBD and related products provided that such ads don’t offer any prohibited products for sale.”
“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services on our technologies,” Meta said.
However, “advertisers will continue to be prohibited from running ads that promote THC products or cannabis products containing related psychoactive components,” the company clarified.
Ads for allowable CBD products, meanwhile, must not contain any claims that expressly state or imply that the featured products can treat, cure, prevent, mitigate or diagnose a disease or medical condition in humans or animals.”
Michal Conley, LegitScript General Manager of Certification and Compliance Solutions, said in a press release that the company’s existing CBD certification program, which is also used by Google in determining which products are allowed to be advertised, “comes with an added benefit: the ability to reach millions of potential U.S. customers through select Meta Platforms.”
The policy update brings Meta more closely in line with various other social media companies that have moved to reform cannabis rules following the federal legalization of hemp and its derivatives, as well as the expansion of the marijuana legalization movement.
However, Meta has faced some criticism over a feature of its new text-based app Threads that launched this month that prompts users with a “get help” message about federal substance misuse resources if they search “marijuana,” various psychedelics and other controlled substances. Meanwhile, alcohol- and tobacco-related searches are exempt from the prompt.
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Twitter took a similar step in 2020, cautioning users about “marijuana” searches as part of a partnership with SAMHSA. Alcohol and tobacco were similarly excluded from the search restriction. But late last year, after being acquired by Elon Musk, Twitter suspended that practice.
Also, Twitter has since updated its cannabis advertising policy, aiming to give cannabis businesses that are “certified advertisers” the ability to feature “packaged” cannabis products in the ad creative that’s promoted on the social media site.
The company generated headlines when it previously revised its marijuana policy in February, opening up advertising opportunities for cannabis companies to promote their brands and campaigns, while allowing them to link back to their websites in select legal states.
In other cannabis and social media developments, Google updated its policy as of January, making it so companies can promote Food and Drug Administration- (FDA) approved drugs containing CBD, as well as topical CBD products with no more than 0.3 percent THC.
However, Google restricts those ad opportunities to California, Colorado and Puerto Rico.
Video game streaming company Twitch, meanwhile, recently updated its branding policy for streamers, prohibiting promotions of marijuana businesses and products while explicitly allowing alcohol partnerships.
Interestingly, Twitch separately clarified rules last year in a way that was inclusive of cannabis—exempting marijuana-related references from the list of banned usernames, just as it does for alcohol and tobacco.
In an update to Apple’s iPhone software that was instituted last year, users were given an option to track medications and learn about possible drug interactions with other substances—including marijuana.
In 2021, Apple ended its policy of restricting cannabis companies from conducting business on its App store. The marijuana delivery service Eaze subsequently announced that consumers were able to shop and pay for products on its iPhone app for the first time.
Last year, New York marijuana regulators asked the social media app TikTok to end its ban on advertising that involves the word “cannabis” as they work to promote public education on the state’s move to legalize.
On the Meta-owned Facebook, state-legal cannabis businesses, advocacy groups and government entities like the California Bureau of Cannabis Control have complained of being “shadow banned,” where their profile pages do not show up on a conventional search. There were reports in 2018 that the social media giant would be loosening its restrictive cannabis policies, but it’s unclear what steps its taken to achieve that.
The same problem exists on Instagram, where people have consistently said that their accounts have been deleted by the app over marijuana-related content even if they weren’t advertising the sale, or promoting the use, of cannabis.
In contrast to Apple, Google’s Android app hub updated its policy in 2019 to explicitly prohibit programs that connect users with cannabis, no matter whether it is legal in the jurisdiction where the user lives.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay/terimakasih0.