Facebook Denies Advertisers the Ability to Promote CBD Related Content…And it Could Prove Disasterous

More and more states are continuing to legalize a substance which once suffered at the hands of an immense display of propaganda: Cannabis. Society still hasn’t overcome the stigmas cast upon cannabis which were largely displayed to the public between the years of 1930 and 1937 by Harry Anslinger, at that time, head of the Department of Prohibition. And with legalization still not standardized by federal legislature, laws across the country vary greatly from state to state. In twelve states, cannabis remains fully illegal, ten other states have fully legalized cannabis, and the remaining twenty-six states have laws which fall somewhere in-between—either decriminalizing the substance or allowing it to be purchased for medicinal purposes. This inconsistency isn’t only affecting American citizens in regard to their choice of cannabis use; it’s affecting the entire cannabis economy where the substance is completely legal to use, possess, sell, and grow. Why? Because at least two titans of the internet are denying advertisements related in nearly any capacity to cannabis from being displayed on their platforms. Worse still, businesses have had their Facebook accounts deleted entirely for attempting to advertise any cannabis related products with no word of warning from the social media platform. The latest Facebook advertising casualty for cannabis? Advertisements which feature CBD.

For those of you in the audience asking, “what’s CBD?”, I’ll give you a quick rundown. CBD—an abbreviation for cannabidiol—is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s a substance used more and more frequently in products like oils, edibles, beverages, and salves for its perceived ability to relieve pain and reduce the effects of anxiety and depression. Unlike the chemical compound which imparts a psychoactive experience to cannabis users, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not have psychoactive effects. Put simply, CBD doesn’t get you high when consumed. This chemical compound found within the cannabis plant has rapidly increased in popularity in recent years. Up to 65 million Americans have tried CBD at least once, and many others use it as a holistic medicine which doesn’t require a prescription. But despite the chemicals widespread use and social acceptance, Facebook is crippling advertisements and businesses whose product is centered on it.

Numerous cases have been reported by Facebook advertisers and business owners alike who have attempted to advertise products related to CBD. The cases reported have not only had their ads denied from being displayed on the platform, but, in some cases, entire ad manager accounts have been completely shut-down—denying advertisers and business owners access to assets, analytics, and audiences they may have paid good money to garner. Worse still, some business pages which have posted content relating to CBD and attempted to sponsor that content have had their entire Facebook account deleted in the time it takes to snap your fingers.

Why Facebook? Why turn the gun toward the businesses who depend on your platform to succeed? The social media giant’s advertising policies don’t even make mention of CBD—not caring to warn would-be advertisers of CBD containing products about the potential repercussions that may occur if they attempt to utilize the platforms paid advertising features. What the advertising policies do say is that advertising “illegal products or services”, “drugs & drug-related products”, and “unsafe supplements” (unsafe supplements are determined by the sole discretion of Facebook), is not allowed. But with CBD as common in some areas as coffee, it’s hard to believe that Facebook is willing to excommunicate business who are trying to give the social media juggernaut their hard-earned money.

Facebook’s incomprehensive and ill-defined advertising policies have brought many businesses back to ground-zero on the platform, stripping them of any notoriety they may have acquired by deleting their account. But justice may yet be served. Facebook’s inability to educate advertisers on what content can be advertised and what the repercussions may be if content doesn’t adhere to advertising policies has brought a lawsuit into the picture. The suit was filed by Felicia Palmer, founder of one of the internet’s oldest hip-hop websites. Facebook accepted a payment given by Palmer to increase the reach of her posts about CBD while she was promoting an online summit called Cannaramic. After accepting Palmer’s payment, Facebook didn’t show the ads Palmer had promoted to the users she had selected when using Facebook’s targeted advertising features. Then, like so many others, Facebook disabled Palmer’s ads account entirely, stating that her ads had been blocked because “we don’t allow ads that promote illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.”. That’s when Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law, David Holland, stepped into the picture. Holland is representing Palmer in her case against Facebook pro-bono and has left the suit open to other plaintiffs to join.

While there are no guarantees as to the outcome of Felicia Palmer’s lawsuit against Facebook, all we can do is hope that sometime in the not-so-distant future, Facebook will, at the very least, give a more specific definition as to what type of content is allowed to be advertised on the platform, and the repercussions that advertisers will be subjected to if the advertising policies are not adhered to.


Until next time, this is Paris Marketing’s Head of Social Stories, Eric Troy, signing off ✌️


✌️ 🖋️ 📖

-Eric Troy


Eric Troy

A master at bending plywood to his will, Eric is also a fledgling writer. Stick around so that you don’t miss the moment when his ideas take flight.