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  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director September 10, 2018

    As more and more states decide to legalize and regulate marijuana, businesses outside of America’s new billion dollar marijuana industry around the country are doing their best to navigate the murky waters of entering into partnerships with state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

    Some are responding by adopting new company policies more considerate of state laws that grant marijuana-related businesses the freedom to engage in activities that are still prohibited by the federal government (e.g., sale and distribution of marijuana). On the other hand, some of the largest and most well-known social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have decided to steer clear of the issue all together. Instead of evolving like the majority of the American public, where more than 68% support the legalization of adult-use marijuana, they appear to be aggressively suspending social media accounts of marijuana-related businesses while offering little to no explanation as to why.

    Without question, companies, regardless of their products or services, need a strong presence on social media to compete, and ultimately survive in today’s digitized marketplace, but social media accounts of state-sanctioned, legal marijuana businesses are routinely being shut down without warning, and frankly without just cause. This is a devastating blow to companies that have invested time, money and energy into building robust following of tens of thousands of dedicated supporters and potential customers.

    Considering the restrictions against marijuana-related activities outlined in the “Terms of Use” and/or “User Agreement” adopted by most popular social media platforms are based on the fact that marijuana is federally illegal and categorized as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, the problems companies like Natural Remedies and Dixie Elixirs are currently experiencing can only be solved by Congress.

    That’s why I believe the focus should be on ending the federal prohibition of marijuana by encouraging members of Congress to pass HR 1227: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, S.3174: The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, or S.1689/HR 4815 The Marijuana Justice Act. Not only would marijuana-related companies be able to promote their events and market products on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms, it will end the harassment, arrest, and incarceration of marijuana patients and consumers, not to mention all of the collateral consequences related to a marijuana charge (e.g. employment and housing discrimination).

    I’m in no way trying to minimize the challenges with censorship that business owners operating in the marijuana industry are facing, but merely trying to redirect focus to the root of the problem. Currently there are numerous business-centric marijuana law reform bills being considered by Congress, and while NORML’s focus continues to be on ending marijuana prohibition and being a voice for marijuana consumers, we are generally supportive of these efforts.

    We at NORML understand and appreciate how marijuana consumers benefit when a company has access to basic banking services such as checking accounts, small business loans and merchant services. We understand that without a stable and predictable environment where businesses can thrive, consumers will be the ones to suffer at the end of the day.

    I’ve highlighted a few business-centric marijuana law reform bills that NORML has created action alerts for below:

    The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act: http://norml.org/action-center/item/support-the-secure-and-fair-enforcement-banking-act-safe-banking-act

    The Small Business Tax Equity Act: http://norml.org/action-center/item/federal-legislation-pending-to-cease-penalizing-state-compliant-marijuana-businesses-under-the-federal-tax-code

    The States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act: http://norml.org/action-center/item/federal-legislation-pending-to-halt-forfeiture-actions-against-marijuana-facilities

    The State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance Enforcement Act: http://norml.org/action-center/item/federal-support-the-state-marijuana-and-regulatory-tolerance-smart-enforcement-act

    For a comprehensive list please visit NORML’s Action Center.

    As a nonprofit organization that’s focused on the larger goal of ending federal marijuana prohibition, we also promote business-centric marijuana law reforms to our members and supporters. If your business would like to support our efforts, please consider becoming a sponsor today!

    “Businesses can do well by doing good, when they join the fight to end prohibition,” says NORML’s development director, Jenn Michelle Pedini. “NORML’s grassroots includes tens of thousands of reform-savvy consumers, and businesses gain exclusive access to that network when they stand alongside them and fight for freedom.”

    Whether you’re a longtime business owner or new to the marijuana industry, we’ll recognize your company on our website and social media for supporting NORML’s longstanding mission of reforming marijuana laws in our country.

    For more information about becoming a NORML Sponsor click here!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director November 1, 2012

    In ‘stoner’ numerology, no number holds greater allure than ‘420‘…

     

    At approximately 5:30PM (eastern) on ‘Halloweed’ the organization’s 420,000th friend on the massive social network site Facebook signed up to become a NORML supporter.

    Next goal: Reach half million Facebook friends by year’s end!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director June 28, 2011

    The Atlantic Monthly Online has an article today that serves as prime example of the ‘normalization’ of cannabis in mainstream media….with a ‘joint’ video game project between three mega brands: Showtime, designer Marc Ecko and Facebook:

    After hours and hours spent mastering FarmVille, you’re ready to upgrade from corn and soybeans to a real cash crop: marijuana. Weeds Social Club, a new game for Facebook, lets you grow and sell pot (and potted) plants online.

    The game could eventually serve as a testing ground for new characters or stories to be incorporated into the actual show.

    Launched on Monday, June 27, to complement the season premiere of Showtime’s Weeds, the game is just the latest brand extension for Hollywood producers who have already mastered action figures, TV shows, DVDs, apparel and more.

    “Social games played on Facebook are the new frontier for film and television tie-ins,” according to Businessweek’s Douglas MacMillan. “This summer, two movies — Disney’s Cars 2 and Fox’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins — and a popular Showtime series will attempt build buzz and some extra revenue by featuring their characters in Facebook games.”

    Without Jim Carrey’s comic stylings or Pixar’s anthropomorphic four-wheeled friends, though, Weeds is by far the most controversial project we’ve seen enter this space. Showtime — and, like it, HBO — can often get away with racier material because the content they produce is locked behind subscription models and shielded from the eyes of (most) children. While Facebook doesn’t officially allow kids under the age of 13 access to its network, we know there are millions with profiles anyway.

    What are they — and the adults who have also been drawn to this extension — learning from their membership in the Weeds Social Club? The game allows users to buy and grow different strains of marijuana — “from downmarket ‘Schwag Weed’ to the pricier and more (virtually) potent ‘Jamaican Ganja,'” according to MacMillan — before harvesting and selling it.

    All of the money that players earn selling their weed to a hooded-sweatshirt-wearing figure in the game can be spent on virtual flat-screen televisions, bongs and more. Andy Botwin, a character from the show, which is entering its seventh season, makes an appearance in the game, performing “tasks that correlate with the storyline from the latest TV episode.” (more…)

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator April 19, 2011

    Here's what happened last time Mr. Obama took votes from the public on policy questions...

    Once more President Obama wades into the online breach with yet another Facebook Town Hall to solicit questions on policy from the public.  The event takes place on April 20th, a.k.a. 4/20, the unofficial national cannabis holiday, without any sense of irony that these forums have been dominated by marijuana legalization questions every time the public votes on these questions.

    (President Obama’s Facebook) WHAT’S HAPPENING
    President Barack Obama will hold a special “Facebook Live” townhall to connect with Americans across the country.

    WHERE & WHEN IT’S HAPPENING
    Where? Well, everywhere! The event at Facebook’s headquarters, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg & COO Sheryl Sandberg, will be live streamed for anyone to watch. Just come back here at the right time: Wednesday, April 20 @ 1:45pm PDT / 4:45pm EDT. Unless invited to attend in person, please do not show up at Facebook HQ. You can watch and participate via the event’s live stream.

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT
    President Obama will connect with Americans across the country to discuss the tough choices we must all make in order to put our economy on a more responsible fiscal path, while still investing in areas like innovation that will help our economy grow and make America more competitive.

    HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE
    Facebook will be selecting questions for President Obama to answer during the event. Submit questions now by posting them right here, on this event’s wall. As an alternative, you may submit a question via WhiteHouse.gov/facebooktownhall.

    So how in the world can the president avoid what will surely be voted the number one question once again by the online democracy of Facebook?  Simple… don’t let the public vote.  Scott Morgan from DrugWarChronicle has the scoop:

    It had become clear that as long as Obama’s forums allowed the public to vote on topics for the president to address, the top-ranked questions would be about legalizing marijuana or even ending the War on Drugs altogether. Reluctant to confront the issue further, the White House recently changed its approach and announced an April 20, 2011 event on Facebook in which participants will not be allowed to vote at all. Questions can be sent in by email or posted on the Facebook page, but Obama’s staff will make selections without any public input.

    The inherently democratic, vote-powered economy of ideas on the Internet has proven to be a remarkably powerful tool for discovering content of social value. The ability to click on what you like is the currency of social media and it offers insights into public opinion that may be worth more than meets the eye. The participatory nature of a vote-driven web forum makes people care about the outcome. Advocates for a wide variety of causes are inspired to spread the word and work to make sure their issue gets votes. The Obama Administration has abandoned the process simply to silence one particular idea, but the effect will be to make the forum less interesting for everyone.

    Moreover, the rise of marijuana policy into the realm of mainstream public discussion should fascinate, rather than frustrate, our political leadership. It’s a phenomenon that should at least interest our elected officials, even if they don’t yet fully understand or care that marijuana prohibition funds murder in Mexico, that innocent family pets are slaughtered in botched pot raids, that precious wilderness is being devastated by black-market marijuana manufacturing, that racism defines our marijuana arrest rates, that public servants are being corrupted before our eyes, and that we blow billions each year just to keep the situation as bad as it’s been for so long.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director October 6, 2010

    I think it hard to imagine that other rich supporters of cannabis law reform are not going to follow Dustin’s lead and make a sizable donation in these last few weeks of the campaign as…everyone loves a winner!

    An irony here is about a month ago Facebook refused to take FireDogLake’s ‘Just Say Now’ pro-cannabis law reform ads…blessedly, karma exists.

    From Forbes:

    Dustin Moskovitz confirmed tonight that he has recently given $50,000 in support of Proposition 19, which is seeking to legalize marijuana in California this November. He had previously donated $20,000 to supporters of the act, which would allow people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate or transport cannabis for personal use and would permit local governments to  regulate and tax commercial production and sale of the substance. (Update: Dustin explains why he backs Prop 19.) (more…)

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