Drug Law

Facebook Bans Marijuana Legalization Ad

| by NORML
It's OK to show these leaves on Facebook ads, even though you can make cocaine out of them.

Ryan Grim at Huffington Post breaks the story that is sweeping the internet:

Proponents of marijuana legalization, which is on the California ballot in 2010, have hit a Facebook wall in their effort to grow an online campaign to rethink the nation’s pot laws. Facebook initially accepted ads from the group Just Say Now, running them from August 7 to August 16, generating 38 million impressions and helping the group’s fan page grow to over 6,000 members. But then they were abruptly removed.

Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Facebook, said that the problem was the pot leaf. “It would be fine to note that you were informed by Facebook that the image in question was no long[er] acceptable for use in Facebook ads. The image of a pot leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies,” he told the group in an email, which was provided to HuffPost.

Is this flower "associated with smoking products" because you can make smokable opium from it, Facebook?

The problem was the pot leaf?  Because it is associated with “smoking products”?  It’s a sketch of the leaf of a plant!

It’s very telling how much some people freak out over the sight of the cannabis leaf.  A visceral revulsion to nature.  Ron Reagan Jr. once said, “The illegality of marijuana rests less on what it is than what it represents: nature, dissent, introspection. It’s not marijuana the mildly psychotropic weed we condemn, but marijuana the nemesis of the state.”

The pot leaf is a powerful symbol of not only nature, but mankind’s repression of it for profit and control.  I grew up when MTV played music videos on television (imagine…) and remember watching videos where there was always a smudge where some rocker had a pot leaf on his t-shirt or rapper was wearing pot leaf bling.  But those cans of beer, cigarettes, and forty-ounces were never blurred out.  Marijuana – the nemesis of the legal drug dealers, the one you can produce yourself – is the one that must be censored.

This fungus is a beloved children's character in the popular "Mario Brothers" games. It will also make you trip balls when eaten. Is this allowed, Facebook?

Guess what?  I still turned out to smoke pot.  A whole lot of pot.  I learned a whole lot about cannabis even as you tried to censor the very sight of it.  More than half the people my age that you protected from Snoop Dogg saying “smokin’ endo” in 1994 went on to smoke pot anyway.

Maybe they’re arguing that we shouldn’t condone the use of drugs, or at least the ones not being advertised between (sometimes within) the music videos, the public square, or now, Facebook.  If that’s the case, how does an image of a plant condone the misuse of it?  I can follow that argument if you want to ban images of joints, bongs, glass pipes, chillums, and people chiefing green buds, or even, perhaps, big green sticky nugs of diggity dank like a HIGH TIMES centerfold.  There you have a tenuous thread linking your censorship to repressing images of what you consider “misuse” of cannabis.  But banning the leaf?  If you consider smoking leaf to be “misuse” when you should be smoking bud, I guess that works.  But c’mon, nobody’s smoking leaf these days.

The leaves of this plant can actually kill you, unlike cannabis. Any problem with these, Facebook?

But this goes beyond Facebook banning the natural image of a beneficial herb.  Facebook is the public square and the image pertains to addressing marijuana prohibition.  Our laws haven’t yet caught up to 21st century reality, but I know in my heart that the freedoms to assemble, speak, and petition will be meaningless if they don’t apply to our online world.

Their spokesman claims Facebook does “not allow ads for marijuana or political ads for the promotion of marijuana,” which is ironic considering some of you are reading this on our NORML Facebook page.  Pot leaves are all over individuals’ and groups’ Facebook pages.  Why bother banning ads for political advocacy for marijuana law reform when your social network is one of the ways cannabis users are already pushing for political advocacy for marijuana law reform?

Facebook isn’t banning the mildly psychotropic weed; it’s banning the nemesis of the state.