Facebook Shuts Down Medical Marijuana Pages

facebook_censorMedical marijuana is legal in New Jersey, but several dispensaries in the state still have had their Facebook pages mysteriously taken down.

Facebook’s terms of service prohibit ads that promote the sale or use of “illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs,” so these legal dispensaries are definitely walking a fine line. However, some patients criticized Facebook’s censorship, saying they rely on their dispensary’s page for up-to-the-minute information that helps them handle their symptoms.

“It seems high-handed to simply shut down important resources for sick patients without even saying why or giving organizations a way to ask for reconsideration,” said Peter Rosenfeld, a registered patient in the state’s system. “It makes me question whether any of us should continue to use Facebook. Maybe it is time for people to migrate to new ways of communicating.”

These legal businesses are caught between a rock and a hard place; New Jersey rules prohibit them from advertising, so many relied on their Facebook presence to get the word out. Now, several dispensaries don’t even have that.

Another issue is consistent enforcement; one legal marijuana business owner in Washington State complained in a Facebook community forum that his page was shut down while those of his competitors were allowed to remain up. In his post, he even threatened legal action. Like with many of Facebook’s privacy issues, it’s clear the site needs to straighten out its policies so these accusations of censorship don’t arise.