Episode 385 – A Roll of the Loaded Dice

Mike Liszewski and Kieran Ringgenberg join host Heather Sullivan to talk about the proposed States Reform Act, the ways that states handling cannabis business applications, and the latest news from marijuana social network and listing site Weed Maps. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Episode 383 – Diving Into The Details on the Election

Jahan Marcu and Jeremy Berke join host Ben Larson to talk about the recent election fall-out for marijuana, some of the ways scientists are researching drug consumption and how the federal government is using their studies, and the lag in New York in rolling out legal adult use marijuana. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Cannabis in the Creator Economy

The cannabis market was worth USD 22.10 billion, according to 2020 figures. Still, like all other businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic made it miss its projected 13.9% CAGR trajectory during the 2021-2026 period. Due to the restrictions on buying from physical outlets, cannabis manufacturers relied on social media and online shopping more than ever before. One […]

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Episode 382 – The Big Dogs In Town

Andrea Brooks and first-time guest Max Simon join host Ben Larson to talk about the recent MJBizCon in Las Vegas; new prospective legislation in Congress that would allow the city of Washington, DC to legalize marijuana; and plans by the FDA to learn about the effects of Delta-8 on Reddit. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Instagram Targets Cannabis-Related Social Media Accounts

Photo-based social media giant Instagram regularly takes action against cannabis-related accounts for violating the terms of service (TOS). Often enough, the reason behind a ban is often unclear to the accounts that are affected—which leads to detrimental loss in engagement for up-and-coming cannabis businesses. 

Instagram has an estimated 1 billion monthly active users since its initial release back in 2010. Any disruption to a thriving Instagram account, especially for cannabis-related accounts, can have devastating effects from a marketing perspective. In most cases, a violation of the TOS can be walked back through a series of steps, as detailed by marketing expert Colin Bambury. Bambury has encountered Instagram suspensions numerous times and wrote up a guide on his website Adcann to help others get their accounts reinstated.

“Social media is an important tool for marketers in any space. It allows brands to create connections and communicate with current and potential consumers anytime, anywhere,” Bambury writes. “With COVID-era lockdowns, consumers are staying inside and scrolling through social platforms more than ever, increasing the importance of digital advertising and native content creation. The cannabis industry is no exception—with many brands, retailers, producers, and accessory purveyors utilizing platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.”

Bambury lists that Instagram and Facebook’s policies around “drugs and drug-related products” include ads that don’t promote the sale or use of “illegal, prescription or recreational drugs,” avoiding the use of images related images such as bongs or rolling papers, avoiding any use of images of a recreational drug itself, and avoiding images specifically showcasing recreational or medical cannabis. 

“Although Facebook acknowledges that cannabis can be both ‘recreational’ and ‘medical,’ implying that the substance is regulated and has medicinal value, their official website continues to communicate a zero-tolerance policy on ‘marijuana,’” he wrote in regard to the company’s image policies. “This poses a large problem for cannabis producers, brands, retailers, accessory producers, and marketing agencies looking to connect with consumers.”

On Instagram specifically, same-topic competition can also prove to be a nuisance. “Instagram will frequently prioritize removing content that is reported—which means that ‘haters’ and unethical competitors can, unfortunately, conspire to potentially have your page taken down,” he added.

“Up until recently, that was the main cause of content and account removal. However, in late 2020, Instagram and Facebook made an observable change to their AI restricted content detection, as cannabis accounts and photos were targeted to the extreme. If you rack up enough posts that violate IG’s community guidelines, your account will likely be disabled,” Bambury concluded.

Unfortunately, even adhering to these rules and policies has resulted in banned accounts on Instagram and Facebook. In June, Cannaclusive’s Instagram account was banned for the first time since the creation of those accounts in 2017—with Director of National Projects and Social Media Kassia Graham expressing her confusion about why the account was banned in the first place. She told Yahoo! Finance that it might have been because of a post that garnered a large amount of popularity, or that maybe it was because they tagged other Instagram accounts that had recently run into issues with Instagram violations.

Maria Brasco, social media manager at MATTIO Communications shared that even implementing her own strict rules on what to avoid posting, there doesn’t seem to be any logic behind Instagram’s banning rules. “Accounts that err on the side of caution are being penalized, while their industry colleagues are blatantly ignoring the rules, and nothing happens,” she told High Times

There isn’t a clear solution in how to 100 percent protect a cannabis-related Instagram account right now. Until federal legalization opens up new doors for issues like this, bans will remain commonplace—but in the meantime, those who manage cannabis accounts will benefit from becoming familiar with the account recovery process.

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Cannabis Companies Walk A Fine Line on Social Media

Cannabis reform may be progressing in America, but access on social media remains an uncertain landscape. While brands have thrived, reaching millions of followers and verified status, many others have been cut short, suspended and deleted along the way.

Even those succeeding appear only to have a glimmer of an idea about what’s right and wrong when marketing cannabis. With so much uncertainty, brands proceed cautiously in a direction that may or may not be the correct path. 

The Three Outcomes To Avoid: Deletions, Suspensions and Shadowbans

Whether violating the rules or innocently caught up in the review system, accounts face severe punishments if accused of violating the terms of services. They include: 

  1. Total account deletion
  2. Suspension, lasting one to 90 days depending on the platform and violation
  3. Shadowbanning 

Each result is devastating, especially to a brand or company spending countless hours building up a following. The first two consequences are straightforward. Shadowbanning, on the other hand, is a bit more unclear. Much like how Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Shadow Realm is an alleged place of suffering, so is social media’s apparent shadowban realm. Instead of anime-purple smoke and monsters, social media accounts face a near-complete banishment from the site without losing their posting privileges. 

In short, shadowbanned accounts remain in working order but essentially get removed from communal activity and engagement. While banned, few if any people will be able to see the offending account’s new posts, stories or other activity. 

Brittany Hallett, VP of marketing at cannabis CPG brand SLANG Worldwide, elaborated, saying bans are a means of suppressing organic, unpaid-for reach. “Essentially, rather than turn an account off, the content posted on a page is suppressed, limiting the number of impressions you receive on that content,” she explained.

Not confirmed by social media platforms, the existence of shadowbans has broadly been accepted, with most reporting that bans last two to six weeks.

Harrison Baum, CEO of Daily High Club, said shadowbans are an engagement killer, ultimately stunting follower growth and brand bottom lines. “People also won’t find your brand unless they type the whole name into the search bar,” said Baum, who also oversees all social media initiatives for cannabis brand High Tide.

He believes his account has experienced shadowbans several times but cannot confirm if that is the case. 

Hallett said some possible solutions to a ban include creating a post asking followers to like, share, comment and save posts. “Instagram wants to show valuable content to the platform’s users, so if you can show that your page is offering value, it will improve your reach,” she said. 

Cannabis Brands Try to Stay Compliant

Cannabis is still not welcomed on social media, Google AdWords and other major outlets where people and brands converge. U.S.-based social media companies adhere to federal guidelines, which continue to prohibit cannabis. Therefore, they don’t want cannabis’s money or the consequences if they did.

Instead of outright bans, social media platforms have allowed cannabis brands to develop, with several becoming verified, racking up millions of followers in the process. A few in the space have remained fully or largely compliant by sticking to a few crucial rules they believe social media giants operate by. 

Much like the rationale for bans, there is some understanding of what cannabis compliance means on social media. Broadly summarizing the steps, companies should avoid selling products, consuming pot or using imagery they don’t own. However, the ambiguity and potential for unanticipated consequences leave many to form their conclusions and hope they remain online. 

Several sources said keeping sales out of content is essential. Unlike many other industries, cannabis brands are recommended to use social media as a lifestyle brand, using their channels to start the conversation with followers rather than generate sales. 

“If you’re directly selling a product or linking to your website, don’t show cannabis,” advised Baum. He added, “If you do show cannabis, don’t act like you’re selling it.” 

Adam Greenblatt is a Canadian advocate and cannabis brand manager working for Canopy Growth. He creates content regularly on his accounts, amassing nearly 6,000 followers on Twitter and 80,000 on TikTok. He has only had content flagged during his early TikTok days. He was never deterred by the warnings. 

“Even when they did, I could submit a written appeal, which worked nine out of 10 times,” Greenblatt said. 

Despite cannabis being legalized in Canada, brands and people like Greenblatt must adhere to social media’s U.S.-focused rules. He believes he’s remained relatively unscathed because he does not show or consume cannabis. Instead, he keeps the tone educational or sarcastic. 

“That said, other science-focused creators have been banned from TikTok for no apparent reason,” he recalled. 

Maria Brasco is the social media manager at MATTIO Communications, managing numerous cannabis clients in the space. She reports that, so far, little has proven effective across the board. She delved into specific tactics, including prohibiting content from reaching underage users via an age-gate, but that has not worked entirely.

Instagram’s current rules have no rhyme or reason, according to Brasco. “Accounts that err on the side of caution are being penalized, while their industry colleagues are blatantly ignoring the rules, and nothing happens,” she said, calling the situation the Wild West. 

While frustrating, adhering to the rules is essential. Allison Krongard, co-founder and co-CEO of female-centric cannabis and sexual wellness brand Her Highness, said posting or communicating about any illegal activity is never wise. 

“I don’t respond to plugs or people asking me to send them weed,” said Krongard. She said people reach out daily. 

Overall, compliance is key for a brand. Courtney Wu is the co-founder of Amnesia, an digital agency devoted to cannabis brand compliance using its social media monitoring tool Highlyte

“We are always trying to educate people that you have to think about compliance from the very beginning,” said Wu. Amnesia, which boasts zero shutdown accounts as of July 2021, tells brands to consider compliance in the forefront, not as an afterthought. 

How to Stay Creative While Walking the Social Media Line

Social media rules limit cannabis content creators. Still, operators have found ways to create compelling content without losing their accounts. 

Wu emphasized the importance of compelling content. They noted that companies, cannabis or otherwise, succeed when considering how their brand provides better value than the competition. “Those kind of individual value propositions that may not be necessarily unique to you,” still work, said Wu. She said brands can also excel by showing consumers how their product fits into a person’s life. 

The Her Highness co-founders said that reading the rules helps, while being provocative without overdoing it is critical. 

“There have been times when we couldn’t show smoke coming out of a joint for text ads, but we could show our gold pre-roll box and a grinder,” said Krongard, calling the issue a design obstacle. 

Jim Higdon, co-founder of Cornbread Hemp, went so far as to create alternative phrasing and imagery in YouTube videos promoting a new flower-only extraction process. The company used oranges and juice as slang and a visual aid for CBD and relied on fresh-cut flowers to replace nugs.

“By being creative in these ways, we hope that YouTube’s mods and bots are more friendly to our content and that we remain compliant to their standards,” said Higdon. 

The post Cannabis Companies Walk A Fine Line on Social Media appeared first on High Times.

It’s official! We have a winner of the ARCannabis Cup

If you’re following the retailer ARCannabis on Instagram, you most likely know about the huge hype they created with their ARCannabis Cup. But how did they create all of this excitement? Who did the consumers crown as the champion of the ARCannabis Cup? And How successful was the tournament actually? To answer these questions, we […]

The post It’s official! We have a winner of the ARCannabis Cup appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Friday, October 23, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, October 23, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Montana high court tosses challenge to adult-use marijuana measure (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Pennsylvania House Votes To Protect Medical Marijuana Patients From DUI Charges (Marijuana Moment)

// Canadian cannabis sales grow to nearly CA$245 million in August (Marijuana Business Daily)

These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical and adult use marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 350,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to Curaleaf.com to learn more about this very cool company!

// Colorado Governor Tells Texas Not To Legalize Marijuana So His Own State Can Get More Tourists (Marijuana Moment)

// US cannabis harvest price report 2020 (Leafly)

// Jushi Prices C$35.5 Million Equity Offering at C$3.55 (New Cannabis Ventures)

// West Virginia taps Metrc for medical cannabis seed-to-sale tracking system (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Michael Thompson, imprisoned for 25 years for selling three pounds of cannabis, to receive parole hearing in November (Growth Op)

// Oregon vineyards lose lawsuit against nearby cannabis operation (Oregon Public Broadcasting (AP))

// New Zealand seeks proposals to educate doctors on medical cannabis (Marijuana Business Daily)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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The designated driver role gets a modern update, covering dangers from COVID-19 to social media

The designated driver (DD) is a successful public health strategy dating back to the late 1980s. To better reflect the realities of today’s society, now is a good time to evolve the initiative to help mitigate the harms tied to broader substance use and beyond drinking and driving.

The promotion of “buddy circles,” as an expanded harm reduction strategy, is one possible way to achieve these ends. Similar to the DD, the aim of the proposed buddy circle initiative is to challenge norms and promote behaviour change in order to reduce harm.

The buddy circle concept, however, expands on that of the designated driver, taking into account other substances and risks — including COVID-19 and social media — in order to build a more comprehensive harm mitigation strategy for the 21st century.

The designated driver and beyond

In North America the concept of designated driving began in 1988 as part of Harvard University’s School of Public Health’s Alcohol Project. The project involved a partnership with major television networks and Hollywood studios. Over the past 30 years this program has achieved its goals, integrating the DD into our language and culture.

According to Jay Winsten, founding director of the Center for Health Communication at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, there were two crucial elements involved in the successful promotion of the DD to the public. The first was that it was framed as a positive message, one that “lent social legitimacy to the option of refraining from drinking and created social pressure to conform.” The second was that the DD “needed to be viewed as an integral part of the evening’s fun and not as a bystander.”

Since its inception, the DD has been associated with alcohol consumption. That original focus still dominates our popular understanding of the program (for example see the online dictionary definition of DD).

Today, as an increasing number of countries explore relaxing their drug polices in response to and/or as a result of greater awareness of drug using behaviours and the harms associated with prohibitionist policies and practices, including Canada where recreational cannabis was legalized in 2018 and there is increasing pressure to decriminalize possession of all drugs — similar to Portugal, a broader approach to substance use behaviour and its associated risks is needed.

Program expansion

There are a variety of potential risks or harms that a buddy circle initiative may address. Four are highlighted here:

  • overconsumption of substances
  • unintended or non-consensual consumption of substances
  • social media exposure
  • COVID-19

The harms associated with over-consumption of substances include overdosing, passing out, vomiting, choking on vomit, sexual or physical assault or engaging in dangerous and/or embarrassing behaviour.

There is also a danger of unintended consumption, such as having a drink or other substance spiked by a more potent drug (for example, fentanyl-laced heroin) or via “date-rape” drugs (e.g., GHB and rohypnol).

Another area of risk in the 21st century is associated with smart phones and social media. Taking and posting photographs of oneself and one’s friends is an everyday occurrence. These include photos of intoxicated individuals, that can be (and often are) posted to social media sites by friends or by strangers.

Despite laws protecting privacy rights, such posts can have severe negative consequences for individuals. Elements of one’s social media behaviour that are viewed as evidence of questionable “honesty, maturity or moral character” can result in loss of jobs or job offers, loss of scholarships, rescinding of offers for school admission or other lost opportunities.

Now in 2020, COVID-19 adds an additional layer to evolving substance-use harm-mitigation strategies. As communities lift COVID-19 restrictions, we see young people in particular participating in social gatherings on beaches, at house partieson and off college campuses, and at bars, typically engaging in substance consumption and related behaviours that can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Buddy circles

The promotion of buddy circles as a harm reduction strategy can address these concerns. The idea builds on the successes of the DD, re-imagining how lessons learned can be applied to enhance the norms tied to socially responsible substance use behaviour. It also incorporates familiar elements from the more recent COVID-19 “social circle” campaigns, such as limiting our exposure to others to reduce risk.

Buddy circles are small groups of individuals who get together socially and look out for each others’ well-being. Buddy circles can work whether the group is staying in or going out, attending parties (small or large, indoors or outdoors), or going to bars or other indoor public venues.

On successive social occasions, members of the circle take turns playing the integral role of “buddy guard” (similar to the DD) — abstaining from substance use and taking the lead in encouraging the group to watch out for each other in order to mitigate harm. This can include reminding members to: stay together, maintain social distance, wear masks, clean their hands and avoid taking and sharing inappropriate photos of members. The buddy guard can also get help when needed and make sure that everyone arrives home safely at the end of the night, whatever the mode of transportation.

By Jacqueline Lewis, Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Windsor

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Misinformation about illicit drugs is spreading on social media – and the consequences could be dangerous

We’re all familiar with the term “fake news” and have probably witnessed the speed at which these stories can circulate on social media. Fake news stories can be about almost any topic, but increasingly misinformation about illicit drugs is becoming common. But the consequences of such false information can be dangerous – even deadly.

There tends to be a high level of interest about drug use myths on social media, driven in part by curiosity, but also fear of the unknown as some new and bizarre threat is reported – but often without any evidence to back up the hysteria. Some of this interest will be amplified by algorithms used by social media platforms, which tailor content based on user search history.

However, this misinformation is also further spread by mainstream media news outlets that pick up on the popularity and publish stories repeating the false information. Misinformation on social media is also easy to access, engaging, and may be shared by friends and family, making it appear more trustworthy. And, for many people, social media is the only place they get their news.

Dangerous synthetic drugs are common subjects of misleading “fake” news spread on social media. Given their potential dangers, it’s understandable that many people are concerned. This misinformation could be harmful, especially to those who may take the drug.

One such example is the deadly drug fentanyl, an opiate that can be anywhere between 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. A myth that you can overdose even by touching a small amount of this drug spread on social media – and was even perpetuated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, which claimed that touching or inhaling airborne fentanyl could be deadly. As this warning was issued by a government department, many people took this misinformation seriously. It spread quickly and widely on social media even after the medical community agreed that overdose due to fentanyl skin contact is impossible.

Researchers tracked the spread of information about fentanyl between 2015 and 2019 by using a media analysis tool which was able to track the number of fake news articles created on and spread by social media, and could also track the number of potential views by looking at article shares. They found that erroneous information had a reach 15 times greater than correct information. Some of this included the myth about how touching the drug could be toxic. Most of this misinformation about fentanyl originated from Facebook posts created in Texas and Pennsylvania, and potentially reached 67 million people.

While fentanyl use might not be common, this sort of misinformation could have dangerous consequences. For example, a person might not help someone who has overdosed if they believe any physical contract with them – even to administer chest compressions – could cause them harm, too.

Other synthetic drugs, including Krokodyl and “spice” (a type of synthetic cannabis) have also triggered widespread misinformation. Krokodyl has been portrayed on social media as a chemical which can eat your flesh, even after only one use. Spice, on the other hand, has been described in the media as a drug that causes users to rip off their clothes as if it’s given them “superhuman” strength.

While it’s unlikely someone would take a drug knowing it causes severe damage, the idea of using something to gain extraordinary physical strength might entice potential users. In both instances, this information was wrong, but that didn’t stop them from going viral on social media.

It is often the young or naive that are victims of misinformation about some new drug or using a drug to achieve an effect. This is illustrated in a recent case when information about the antihistamine Benadryl was circulated on social media. Users reported that consuming this drug caused hallucinations and would challenge each other to take the drug, sadly at least one person died as a result.

Beyond these extreme examples, it’s also becoming routine to see misinformation on social media about drugs such as cannabis. In particular, claims being made about cannabis-based medicinal products, which suggest that everything from pain to terminal cancer can be cured. These are made despite the lack of research and evidence that support these assertions. Tragically this type of misinformation offers false hope to people who are often at a very vulnerable point in their life. These false claims are harmful in themselves, but could be really damaging if people choose to stop traditional medical intervention and use these products in the belief that their health will improve.

Misinformation about illicit drugs may also make them sound more appealing to people who aren’t risk adverse. For them the appeal is in the risk that the drug poses. Widely circulated fake news may even be the reason they try these types of drugs to begin with.

Finding ways of reducing this type of misinformation is important to prevent any dangerous consequences. Social media platforms have an important role to play in regulating information – should they choose to. Educating people in how to spot fake news, and better education for young people in schools about drugs may also prevent the further spread of such harmful misinformation.

We need to accept that there will always be interest in drugs and that false information about them will accompany that curiosity. Social media platforms have the ability to mitigate misinformation, but they may not have the will if an action threatens their commercial interests. So young people and their families are left to separate fact from fiction as they try to reduce the potential risks some drugs pose.

By Ian Hamilton, Associate Professor of Addiction., University of York and Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, Professor of Psychiatry, Washington University in St Louis

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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