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Social media wrap: Facebook rejects marijuana campaign ads

August 24, 2010 |  4:16 pm


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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