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Social media wrap: Facebook rejects marijuana campaign ads


Facebook just said no to proponents of the campaign to legalize marijuana.

The social networking site used by more than 500 million people worldwide has blocked ads from the Just Say Now campaign backing California's Prop. 19, which aims to legalize marijuana and goes to the state's electorate on the November ballot.

Some pot campaigners are crying foul, alleging that Facebook has infringed on the group's 1st Amendment rights -- haven't we been here before? -- but many private companies (including the owners of this website) have regulations on what is permissible territory for advertising campaigns. Political campaigning on the interwebs is largely unregulated by state or federal agencies.

Facebook defended its policies in a letter to the group subsequently provided to the Huffington Post, saying that the group's use of the marijuana leaf contravened its policy of non-promotion of "smoking products."

The Just Say Now group launched a petition challenging Facebook's ruling on its own page, which has....

...more than 6,000 followers. It also includes a posting from the Libertarian Party, which says its own logo (which features a marijuana leaf) was "censored" by the site.

The petition says: "After our ads with the Just Say Now logo of marijuana leaf ran more than 38 million times, Facebook flip-flopped and banned all images of marijuana from its ads. Marijuana legalization is a critical issue facing our country. Clear majorities in states across the country support legalizing marijuana. By censoring marijuana leaves, Facebook is banning political speech. This is unfair, and unacceptable."

One follower commented that the Facebook app "Pot Farm," which allows users to grow their own marijuana patch, must have escaped the attention of the site's regulators (access to the app, though, was restricted by the company about three months ago).

So far, the campaign to legalize marijuana in California has not garnered the public -- and financial -- backing of major donors. Public support for full legalization is fairly evenly split, but recent polls show support for legalization gaining a slight lead.

Marijuana has been decriminalized for medicinal purposes in California since 1996 and in 14 other states. It remains a controlled substance under federal law.

-- Craig Howie

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Comments () | Archives (7)

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Thanks, Facebook. I am glad there are still some socially responsible people in this planet. Majority of the Facebook users are youth.

so take the cannabis image out of the logo. cannabis does not have to smoked to be effective, it can be consumed or vaporized -- smoking anything is bad for you.

cannabis and it's derivatives should be completely legalized and regulated. how American is it to throw someone in jail for using pot? disgraceful.

is it unfair of FB to do this? yes. infringement on 1st amendment rights? no, they are a private company who can do as they please, and nobody is forced to use their service.

Facebook isn't for kids first poster. I'm guessing ur children have accounts. And majority of the accounts belong to adults. Alcohol is by far more dangerous that marijuana, and its legal. I hope as adults living in a country that promotes freedom and in some instances pushes our will upon other countries to be like us, that we will vote it in. Our state needs the revenue it will bring in and we need to stop putting people in jail for using this harmless crop.


Who are the campaigners claiming their 1st Amendment rights were violated? As far as I can tell, no one directly involved in the Just Say Now campaign has made that claim. The Just Say Now campaign understands that this is not a 1st Amendment issue, but believes that Facebook can be made to realize that they are doing something unreasonable that goes against the views of their community.

There may be supporters of Just Say Now who don't understand that the 1st Amendment only covers government action, but that's hardly comparable to the Schlessinger case where she herself claimed 1st Amendment violation.

Some of the legalization supporters are crying about their 1st Amendment rights? Facebook is not the government so they can permit or deny anyone they please. If people are going to cite their rights they should at least have an actual understanding of their rights.

Facebook defended its policies in a letter to the group subsequently provided to the Huffington Post, saying that the group's use of the marijuana leaf contravened its policy of non-promotion of "smoking products."

Goes to show the level of ignorance that is associated with Cannabis, aka marijuana.
The cannabis leaf is not a "smoking product", and the group is not promoting "smoking products".
It's a homeopathic medicine, has been used for thousands of years, we are just scratching the surface as to the benefits of cannabis. Its a plant, an herb and yes some people smoke it, some ingest it , some cook with it, some use the seeds to cook with, some use the oils of the seeds to cook with, and many countless other uses.
Stop the ignorance.

Why is Facebook now getting into political issues? and taking sides? This isnt what they are all about!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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