Social media platforms often censor CBD and hemp products, despite being legal

Businesses often fear their posts being deleted and their accounts shut down.

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A coalition of the top hemp-derived CBD brands has launched an initiative to stop the censorship of CBD products on social media. Despite the legal status, social media companies continue to censor CBD products adverts.

According to Nathalie Bougenies, a lawyer at Harris Bricken who focuses on the regulation of hemp-derived CBD, over the past one-and-a-half years, accounts advertising hemp-derived CBD products have been punished with warnings, suspensions, and even bans.

Yet, at the federal level, hemp, and by extension hemp-derived CBD, is legal, following the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Social media companies censor CBD adverts for different reasons. Twitter, for example, has overly restrictive policies on CBD products. In the US, the platform allows “approved CBD topical advertisers,” as long as they follow the following rules:

  • Advertisers must be licensed by the appropriate authorities and pre-authorized by Twitter.
  • Advertisers may only promote non-ingestible, legally derived CBD topical products.
  • Advertisers may only target jurisdictions in which they are licensed to promote these products or services online.
  • Advertisers may not target Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, or Virginia.
  • Advertisers are responsible for complying with all laws and regulations.
  • Advertisers may not target customers under the age of 21.

Facebook does not have policies prohibiting the advertisement of CBD products. Instead, the company justifies the censorship of CBD adverts by citing a policy that bans ads that “promote the sale or use of illicit or recreational drugs, or other unsafe substances, products or supplements, as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion.”

Additionally, Facebook does not include CBD in its list of banned products, yet it often gets censored anyway.

Understandably, advertisers, especially small CBD companies, are not ready to risk breaking the vague policies because they risk losing their accounts.

The FDA publicly acknowledged that hemp-derived CBD companies and advertisers can market some of their products, like cosmetics. But that has not stopped social media companies from banning all hemp-derived CBD products, even those platforms that have not published formal guidelines on the advertisement of these products.

In response to these discriminatory and restrictive marketing policies on social media, a coalition of top hemp-derived CBD brands, including B-Corp and Prima, has launched the “Stop Censoring CBD #freeCBD” campaign.

According to the Bougenies report on Above The Law: “The coalition’s main objectives are to encourage lawmakers to pass the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act (S. 1698), which proposes to establish legal and regulatory pathways for the sale of hemp-derived products; and to pressure the FDA to recognize the legal distinction between hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD and to develop a regulatory framework for the manufacture, sale, and marketing of those products.”

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