Hemp Companies Call Out Facebook’s Advertising Policy

A coalition of hemp businesses are calling out two of the country’s most popular social media platforms for what they believe are unfair advertising policies. According to the Hemp Industries Association, algorithms lumping the plant into the same category as marijuana have prevented industrial hemp companies from advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

Although the 2018 federal Farm Bill legalized hemp for farming at the end of last year, there’s still plenty of confusion about the non-intoxicating version of marijuana, particularly with traditional media like television. But social media companies — a relatively new form of media — have also frustrated the emerging industry by deleting certain profiles and prohibiting hemp companies from advertising.

“[Facebook] sort of has a blanket over cannabis, and is unable to really differentiate between hemp, which is legal federally, and marijuana,” says HIA executive director Colleen Lanier. “We feel that it’s really unfortunate that Facebook is promoting this artificial intelligence to tell things apart, and they can not seem to get it right for cannabis, especially hemp. We can put a billboard up in Times Square, but we can’t pay for a boost on Facebook.”

Lanier isn’t joking: Since 2015, her organization has been trying to meet with Facebook representatives, but has been unsuccessful. Now the HIA has paid for a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square that will run daily through August 24, reading “Facebook: Stop Censoring Hemp.”

The Hemp Industries Association's billboard will run until August 24.

The Hemp Industries Association’s billboard will run until August 24.

Courtesy of the Hemp Industries Association

“They ghosted us,” Lanier says. “We recognize it as somewhat of a systemic issue across all social media, but we also recognize Facebook is one of the largest out there.”

Marijuana Deals Near You

Facebook, which also owns Instagram under Facebook Inc., has held a firm anti-marijuana advertising policy despite social acceptance growing for the plant over the past several years. There are numerous cases of hemp advocacy posts, CBD brand pages, cannabis educational platforms, entertainment pages and medical marijuana groups being suspended, prohibited or banned by Facebook, either in individual circumstances or broad sweeps. Facebook Inc. was recently sued by a cannabis media and education company over its advertising policies, according to Forbes.

Asked about its policies, Facebook tells Westword that the website permits the advertisement of non-ingestible hemp products without CBD, such as clothes and plastics. Hemp-infused food and any products with CBD are still prohibited from advertising, according to Facebook’s media department, but the social media giant is considering the possibility of allowing hemp seeds, hemp milk and hemp oil (without CBD) to advertise on its platforms.

While THC-laden marijuana will likely stay on Facebook’s shit list until federal prohibition is lifted and CBD products are still waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration, industrial hemp companies think that they shouldn’t be stuck waiting.

“Congress has made the most powerful statement that it could: that hemp is lawful, and that this substance is not to be stigmatized any longer,” explains Hoban Law Group attorney Garrett Graff, who represents clients across the hemp industry. “There’s very little guidance provided in the rhyme or reason as to why these advertisements, pages and profiles are shut down.”

Since hemp was legalized, Graff says, the Facebook pages and profiles of industrial hemp companies have been allowed to operate with less interference, but advertisements or sponsored posts on Facebook and Instagram related to hemp continue to be blocked. To avoid confusion or unnecessary red flags, Graff advises his clients to stay away from any phrases or images that might connect their hemp brands to marijuana.

“They all need to be cautious about the phrasing and imagery being used. For example, using a cannabis leaf could add to that stigmatization,” he points out, adding that traditional advertising routes through the internet, television and print are just as challenging. “There’s no one specific answer, because the answer could be different depending on the organization, and the state and platform they’re trying to advertise with, whether that’s Amazon or something else.”

Graff and Lanier believe the harsh treatment of the hemp industry is rooted in a misunderstanding of the plant’s new legality. However, state governments must still draft hemp-farming regulations or opt in to upcoming rules that will be released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — and not everyone is on board. For example, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem vetoed a bill that would’ve legalized industrial hemp in her state, while three truck drivers hauling 7,000 pounds of hemp across the Oregon-Idaho border in early 2019 still face charges in Idaho, which does not differentiate between hemp and marijuana.

“It’s an unfair expectation that these advertising companies can cut through the BS and understand the true status of hemp,” Graff says. “We’ve certainly been encouraged by the recent passage of the 2018 Farm Bill — but the hope is to help compel a number of these outside stakeholders to be more embracing of the hemp industry.”

Toke of the Town

Canada’s Licensed Producers Release Their Advertising Wish List

A coalition of Canada’s licensed producers (LPs) that represent approximately 90 percent of the legal Canadian marijuana-growing industry released their recommendations Wednesday on how they would like to see cannabis advertising take shape in the Great White North. Bill C-45 has been speeding its way through the Parliamentary process since being introduced in April and Canada’s LPs […]

‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ church told no advertising

BERLIN (Reuters) – The anti-religion Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster can be banned from advertising its services on the outskirts of town, a German state court ruled on Wednesday.

The Brandenburg court rejected an appeal filed by the group, which criticizes religion as intolerant and has amassed followers worldwide, against an earlier ruling last year.

“The suing party can be seen as neither a religious community nor a community with a common world view,” the court said in a statement.

German churches often advertise services at the entrance to a town, and the Spaghetti Monster group had sought permission to do that same in the town northeast of Berlin.

(This story was refiled to fix typo in first paragraph)

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Maria Sheahan/Jeremy Gaunt

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Canada’s Licensed Producers Band Together Over Advertising Rules

Canada is in the process of legalizing adult-use pot, and most people are ecstatic over it. This is especially true for the licensed producers (LPs) of cannabis across the nation. A point of contention, however, exists over the proposed packaging and advertising guidelines put forth by the government. When the long-awaited Bill C-45 hit the floor in Parliament, one of the […]

L.A. Official Suggests Pot Advertising Ban

marijuana robz flickr

An L.A. city official is concerned that marijuana advertising could be coming to television in California if November’s Prop. 64 is passed by the state’s voters.

The initiative would legalize recreational pot for those 21 and up.

Mitchell Englander, the L.A. City Council’s only Republican and a reserve LAPD cop, proposed recently that city lawyers look at the possibility of banning cannabis ads on local TV should Prop. 64 pass. His motion has been sent to the council’s Public Safety Committee for its consideration.

The proposal says that the initiative could “allow marijuana smoking ads in prime time, on programs with millions of children and teenage viewers.”

It’s a claim that 64’s backers have denied. They point to a federal ban on ads for drugs not approved by the government.

The ad scare might be the magic bullet pot haters are looking for. The No on Prop. 64 campaign said this week that its own polling showed that likely California voters would vote down the initiative if exposed to the argument that legalization will put weed advertising in front of children watching TV. Fifty-two percent of 500 people surveyed said they’d vote no.

Otherwise, polls show that about 60 percent of likely voters in the Golden State are in favor of legalization.

The 420 Times

Canada Tells Medical Growers to Curb Advertising Benefits of Cannabis


The Canandian health department has issued a warning to the country’s medical cannabis growers and sellers, saying that advertising the benefits of medical cannabis online and in print has gone too far.

Health Canada sent letters to 20 licensed pot growers that outline how and when they can advertise their products – including banning photos of actual buds or linking to any third-party websites that the government deems to be “promoting” weed. Producers can’t even talk about which strains help certain conditions.

“The information provided by licensed producers to the public should be limited to basic information for prospective clients such as the brand name, proper or common name of the strain, the price per gram, the cannabinoid content, and the company’s contact information,” Health Canada says in a release on their site.

The thing is, the pot sellers are also bound by law to provide a website for patients where they can place orders. So, basically patients have to blindly wade through the strains on the site themselves.

For their part, medical pot producers say they’ve been asking for guidance for weeks but have been getting “nonsensical” responses back from Health Canada.

Some, however, say they welcome the regulations.

“You don’t want to be over-promoting a narcotic,” Marc Wayne, chairman of the Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry said, wrongly conflating cannabis with narcotics and furthering the idea that cannabis is some dangerous drug that should be regulated more harshly than things like Oxycontin, cocaine and heroin.

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Toke of the Town

Shocker: E-Cigarettes Target Kids Through Advertising

E-Cigarettes have slowly but surely phased out cigarettes as the chic way to inhale tobacco (and cannabis) in America. The advantages of E-Cigarettes for kids are simple: they don’t stink your clothes up as much, they’re discreet, and well, they’re easy to get (see: ordering online).

Since it’s become nearly impossible for Big Tobacco companies to market cigarettes to kids, the new kid-catchers are E-Cigarette companies–many of which (shockingly) also own cigarette companies. A new report by Congress highlights both the health dangers of E-Cigarettes and the prevalent advertising methods used by Big Tobacco to reel in their targets.

Here are the key findings:

  • All surveyed e-cigarette companies use various marketing practices that appeal to youth, such as social media outreach, sponsorships of and free samples provided at events geared toward youth, and radio and television advertisements played during events and programs with significant youth viewership.
  • Six of the nine surveyed e-cigarette companies market e-cigarettes in flavors like Cherry Crush, Chocolate Treat, Peachy Keen, and Grape Mint that could appeal to children and teens. 

Social media is perhaps the most fickle, aggravating form of marketing to maintain, whether it’s marijuana or tobacco related. Anyone any age has access to social media, and aside from making your Facebook page only visible to those ages 17 and over, there’s no way to really control that aspect.

As for events geared towards the youth–blame and punish the event throwers down the line, not the sponsors. Concert promoters will take money from anyone they legally can. As for the flavor names, they’re indicative of kid-friendly packaging (see: colors).

While it’s nice to see Congress taking a look at more heavy restrictions, changing the name of an E-Cigarette isn’t going to change how prevalent use of them is. Just like cigarettes, kids migrate towards what’s illegal yet readily available to them.

And here are Congress’ key suggestions:

  • The FDA should promptly issue deeming regulations asserting the agency’s authority to regulate e-cigarettes.
  • The FDA should issue regulations to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to children and teenagers by requiring age verification and face-to-face sales, and by limiting purchases through vending machines.

Kids can order almost anything online with their parents’ credit cards, yet we’re talking about vending machines. Vending machines.

And oddly enough, the report makes zero mention of hash Vaporizers–like the G-Pen or CloudPen. That’s because marijuana companeis can’t even come close to marketing to kids, let alone adults.

They can’t advertise in typical media outlets and have to use subversive, cultural methods to find a customer base. The cannabis industry (particularly in Colorado) has, before it spiraled out of control, required legitimate companies to present very straight-laced branding and marketing.

Tobacco, on the flip side, has been using sly Camels and monikers to market its cancer-feeding products to kids for over a century. One report probably won’t change that over night.


VIDEO: Snoop Lion And Major Lazer Protect The Video Game World In “Get Away” Featuring Angela Hunte

Snoop Lion and Major Lazer join the video game world in “Get Away.” With animation from Mykola Dosenko and direction from Ashten “Whoopi ” Winger, it’s easily one of the most creative music videos of the year. The video starts out with Snoop and Major Lazer meeting in a gaming world that looks strikingly similar to Pokémon. They then set out on an adventure that includes fighting off an evil boom box boss and its robot henchmen. While Angela Hunte doesn’t make an appearance in the video, she certainly sets the tone with her smooth vocals on the hook.

Read more… “VIDEO: Snoop Lion And Major Lazer Protect The Video Game World In “Get Away” Featuring Angela Hunte”

VIDEO: Facebook announces new mobile game publishing effort

Facebook is formally announcing that they are becoming a mobile games publisher by offering distribution to studios in exchange for a cut of revenue, and they’re putting a call out for developers that are looking to participate.

Read more… “VIDEO: Facebook announces new mobile game publishing effort”

VIDEO: Top Tech Stories of the Day: Google to Sell HTC One With Unmodified Android

Google to sell HTC One with unmodified Android. 3D model gets you up close with the Xbox One. Tumblr Brings More Ads To Users’ Dashboards, Rearranges Buttons & Teens Freak Out

Read more… “VIDEO: Top Tech Stories of the Day: Google to Sell HTC One With Unmodified Android”

False Advertising? The War Z’s Launch Raises Questions

The War Z

Update: As of this writing, The War Z is no longer available for purchase through Steam. Valve told Kotaku a mistake “was made by prematurely issuing a copy of War Z for sale via Steam. We apologize for this and have temporary removed the sale offering of the title until we have time to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build.” Players wanting a refund can submit a ticket to request one, while those who do not are free to continue playing in the meantime. And, just to make things juicier, Kotaku reports the game’s title screen has images ripped from elsewhere. It’s feeling more and more to me like the game was rushed out in order to be available before people were able to invest their money in the standalone DayZ.

Original Story: The War Z is a game that, long before launch, attracted some criticism for how much it resembled the super-popular ArmA II mod DayZ, which is on its way to becoming a standalone game thanks to its success. Similarities in title aside, the two are open-world zombie games where permadeath can play a critical role. As DayZ was the first to market, War Z developers Hammerpoint Interactive have been accused of simply ripping off Dean Hall’s mod. A “foundation release” of DayZ was expected to be out before the end of the year, though Hall has expressed a willingness to let that deadline slip in order to deliver a better game. Hammerpoint, following a similar strategy of getting out a base game that can then be built upon, had its own foundation release land on Steam this past Monday. However, the lack of any way to discern that certain features promised on its Steam were not available at launch has resulted in a lot of angry gamers, and a developer with an apparent reluctance to fully accept the blame for the situation.


Opticians see advertising gold in Korean flag flap

The flag of North Korea is raised during a welcoming ceremony for the team in the Athletes Village at the Olympic Park ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games July 25, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The flag of North Korea is raised during a welcoming ceremony for the team in the Athletes Village at the Olympic Park ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games July 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

LONDON | Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:45am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) – A British chain of opticians saw publicity gold on Friday after Olympic officials blundered by showing the South Korean flag instead of North Korea’s at a women’s soccer match.

Opticians Specsavers took out adverts in national newspapers with the North Korean flag above the South Korean one and, written in Korean, a message suggesting the officials should have visited them for an eye test.

The company’s regular tagline, used in commercials featuring embarrassing cases of mistaken identity, is ‘Should have gone to Specsavers’.

The gaffe in Glasgow on Wednesday caused a diplomatic incident, with the North Koreans walking off the field and delaying the kick off by more than an hour.

Organizers LOCOG apologized and promised the mistake would not happen again.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Matt Falloon)

Comments (2)

So, is this how England gets ready for the Olympics?

So, maybe Mitt Romney was right to question how well the Olympics would be handled ?

Reuters: Oddly Enough