Thursday, 13 Dec 2018

Marijuana education or the sale of illegal drugs? Instagram is not sure.

Emily Carden, deputy director of the Peake Releaf Cannabis Clinic, fills the shelves with jars of cannabis. (Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post) Steve Thompson Journalist on Government and Politics Responsibility in Maryland, BC and Virginia Dec. 7 at 1:27 pm When they opened this spring, the founders of the Peake Releaf medical cannabis store in Rockville had already created social media. They knew that promoting cannabis on Instagram – often the platform of choice in the marijuana industry – can help build a customer base. But it can also be difficult to avoid complying with Instagram's terms of use. The company has therefore created a backup account and asked supporters to follow it as well. The first account survived until the summer, until Instagram shut it down. The backup account lasted a few more months. For that one, they did not have any backup. Suddenly, current and potential customers who received stable images of the "featured flower" and "waxy Wednesday" promotions were no longer receiving information. "You have hundreds of hours of work just removed," said Tracey Miller, one of the founders of the store. Marijuana sellers legalized in other countries, such as California and Colorado, have been struggling with this problem for years. But that's new in Maryland, which started sales of medical cannabis a year ago. According to state officials, the incomes of state-sanctioned vegetable marketers in Maryland rise to nearly $ 100 million. [Marijuana recall: ForwardGro products ordered off the shelves] The federal government's ban on buying and selling marijuana puts radio and television commercials out of reach, which is why sellers rely on social media to reinforce their mark. But Facebook and Instagram do not allow the promotion of marijuana sales regardless of the state or country. This means that there is no advertising discount or listing price, nor any mention of a product to sell. The platforms prohibit marijuana dispensaries from providing their phone numbers or postal addresses. Instagram and Facebook enable awareness and education to marijuana, which allows salespeople to communicate with customers. This effort, however, led to a lot of frustration. "We spend a lot of time building the community and educating the patients, then all of a sudden they take the count off and that's done," said Michael Chiaramonte, a physician who owns the Haven dispensary in Brandywine and who is president of the Maryland Medical Dispensary Association. "All the patients with whom you have been in contact, you are no longer," he said. "For what seems to be an arbitrary reason, when you feel as if you have read the policies and you are in compliance." [Instagram has a drug problem. Its algorithms make it worse.] Instagram and other social media services are paying greater attention to the sale of drugs on their platforms, with a growing focus on preventing abuse ranging from promoting the sale of illegal drugs to drugs. Russian interference with false news. Instagram and Facebook monitor their pages by combining human control and automation, with drug image detection systems, as well as prices, phone numbers and user names for other accounts. of social media. But the process does not always work properly. The Washington Post sent to Instagram 16 accounts created by cannabis vendors in Maryland, which had been erased for alleged violations. The company replied that 11 had been appropriately removed. But five had been closed by mistake and the company restored them on Thursday. "We apologize for this mistake," said Karina Newton, public policy manager at Instagram, in a statement.
The pharmacy showcase of the Peake Releaf cannabis dispensary in Rockville. (Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post) As more and more state cannabis markets open across the country, more and more social media accounts are being erased, said Natalie Cupps DiBlasi, co-founder of Laced Agency, a California advertising agency "There are many Cupps DiBlasi," said Cupps DiBlasi, which brings together ambitious entrepreneurs in the world of hemp and cannabis. She advises businesses to follow guidelines closely and avoid shady areas. "You need to have a higher level of professionalism online so your accounts are not drawn," she said. "The best way to avoid this is to take all the safety measures you can." This includes keeping minors away and encouraging followers to do the same. Cannabis companies should write their own guidelines on social media, publish them publicly and stick to them, said Cupps DiBlasi. She
suggests that marijuana customers notice how alcohol sellers make the mark of their products. "You never see anyone throwing a beer in a beer advertisement," she said. "You see the product on the photo, then people have fun, but you never really see people drinking beer." [Maryland’s marijuana dispensaries are already running out of pot] Maryland, where recreational marijuana remains illegal for the time being, is discussing how to regulate advertising for medical cannabis. On Thursday, the state's medical cannabis commission approved restrictions that include a ban on radio, television and billboard advertising, as well as social media that does not verify that the user is at least 18 years old. The proposed regulations will be subject to legislative review. The commission announced $ 96 million worth of medical cannabis sales in the first year of market operation. In comparison, Colorado had sales of $ 1.5 billion in medical and retail marijuana stores in 2017, up from $ 684 million in 2014, according to the state's revenue department. Closing an account on a social network is "a huge problem because we have no way of advertising," said Mackie Barch, president of the Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association and chairman of the provider's medical cannabis Culta. Barch said Culta is on her third Instagram account, after the accounts close in September and November. "We had 10,000 followers, we had the largest number of social subscribers in the state of Maryland, and then they just shut us down," he said. "We restarted and they closed us a second time. So we started all over again. "

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