When you undergo cannabis education, whether it be coaching or another role in legal weed, you start to understand why most LPs and cannabis-related businesses can disappear overnight on social media. In fact, you understand why so many of them have back-up accounts included in their bios. It’s because, even if one resides in a legal state/country, the mere mention of cannabis begins the klaxons of morality and “community guidelines.” Giant social media companies tend to be based in places where cannabis is either illegal or legal areas are patchy. And if you don’t want to get in trouble, you police your content fairly tightly. You pull videos and posts, shadowban folx whose passion is a plant, and generally make your space very 420-unfriendly.
I encountered this phenomenon last week when I posted a pretty damned innocuous TikTok video about my Top Three Cannabis books for Beginners. I literally did a 15 second video of three book covers, made the rookie mistake of using cannabis as a hashtag in it, and WHOA there goes the morality police shaking their finger at me. I contested the deletion–and it eventually came back in my favour–but for shits and giggles, I decided to do a quick hashtag search on TikTok for alcohol-related posts. Wow, we got about 6.4 billion views under the vodka hashtag alone, and oh yeah oh yeah, it’s videos of young people doing shots and dangerously drinking. Okay, okay, how about just alcohol? Holy cow, so another few million and it’s all portraying alcohol–a known carcinogen–as basically Funtime Forever? Hell, even the cringey hangover videos still had a touch of “lol yup I feel like shit but hey gonna do it again” about them. So this tells me what the community feels is appropriate, and somehow cannabis use isn’t it.
I assure you that I am not coming at this from a killjoy angle. Fun fact: I am in alcohol recovery, will celebrate my 3-year soberversary this February, and this is the kind of content that can keep folx like me from realizing their addiction. Alcohol is so deeply ingrained in our culture that we never question how it really affects our bodies. Alcohol is one of the leading causes of injury and death in Canada; meanwhile, cannabis is over here being touted as a gateway drug leading kids to jump out windows or go on murder sprees.
As the owner of a very sodden history, I can assure you that cannabis has never led me to do the following real life things:
- Drive impaired, eventually being arrested
- Dial friends and weep
- Make terrible intimacy decisions
- Pick fights with partners
Near as I can tell, adult cannabis use has me laughing at my own dumb jokes or napping, both of which I’ll take over a night in jail or embarrassed hungover apologies.
Can you find cannabis content on social media? You sure can; it just seems harder than it needs to be to find new followers, new accounts, or hashtags to join the conversation.
As I learn to navigate platforms hostile to a plant, I also learn how incredibly creative cannabis creators can be with their hashtags and profiles. And while I love to see it, they also shouldn’t have to. Cannabis legalization continues to gain momentum, and there is no reason why we have to wait on the whole world to fully embrace legality to celebrate a pretty damned amazing plant. Meanwhile, I will continue to call out the double standards as I see them, as well as fight for the right to bring a little green into the everyday.