In the past, many people tried to refrain from posting stuff about their marijuana use on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, because they thought it would lead to arrest and prosecution. However, to quote Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a’changing”. While Facebook still strictly prohibits any pictures or business postings about marijuana use on its site, no matter what part of the country you are in, and whether or not any marijuana usage is legal in your state, that is not the case with Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. There are people whose regular Instagram feeds are full of pictures of visits to dispensaries in Orange County or dispensaries in Santa Ana to purchase edibles or CBD oil, and they are still walking around jail free. How did they do it? There are some simple rules for posting medical marijuana products on Instagram that will allow you to post about marijuana products and stay out of jail as well.
If you own a California dispensary, Instagram has recently changed their rules regarding pictures of your products. First, you are allowed to have an Instagram feed that shows pictures of your products, as long as no one is actively imbibing in the photos. Many dispensaries in OC have pictures of different kinds of products that they offer, often with just the product in the photo. According to Instagram, this is allowed, as long as the businesses contact information, such as name, address, and phone number is not in the post. Marijuana dispensaries can also not use the contact us button found on Instagram for its business customers. However, dispensaries can use their website information on the platform, so customers who want to buy marijuana in Orange County can see a post about a medical marijuana dispensary in Orange County, go to the website and see all of the contact information for the dispensary on the website.
In addition, Instagram does not allow open promotion of marijuana on the site. Which means that business owners can post photos of their products, they can talk about the type of product it is (CBD oil, edible, etc.) but they cannot promote the benefits of the plant on the site. Posting pictures with the name of the product, is not prohibited. So while advertising edibles and types of marijuana available is not prohibited, talking about it and promoting it is. Several business owners have been on Instagram with product photographs, without promoting it, and have been able to continue this indirect promotion on Instagram, which will still drive customers to the business if they have a need for the products, such as medical marijuana.
For consumers, the Instagram guidelines are a little bit different. No matter what you are displaying, whether it is weed in Orange County, moon rocks in Orange County, edibles or CBD oil, you will need to be cautious. Take as many pictures of your products as you want, there are some proponents of medical marijuana who post information about the properties within the plant as well as their medicinal effects daily who are still walking around without an issue. You can also post pictures of items from your local dispensary you want to try, and that is acceptable. Postings about political issues surrounding medical marijuana use is also not an issue. However, if you are posting about the drug, be sure there are not pictures of you using the drug, because that’s Instagram’s no-no.
Instagram appears to be keeping one toe over the line that its owner, Facebook, has no intention of crossing. There may be several reasons for Instagram’s decision. First, the average Instagram user is younger than the average Facebook user. While Millennials and Generation Z have tended to stay on Instagram and Snapchat, older Millennials and Generation X, as well as some Baby Boomers, have gravitated towards Facebook. Facebook appears to heavily police its content after the latest scrutiny about security on the site during the 2016 campaign.
The bottom line? If you are a business owner or a marijuana advocate, post wisely. Use Instagram to advertise products that are available for sale, or as a medical marijuana user, products that you use or have used in your personal healing journey. However, be sure that your business contact information is not on the post (your website is the exception). Also, be sure that no one in your posts happen to be using the plant when you post. If you follow those guidelines, you can post about marijuana on Instagram without worrying.