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How TikTok’s anti-weed stance impedes cannabis education

Aug 22, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

‘We haven’t tried TikTok, because we’ve been told we can’t have anything to do with any cannabis on there, or we will get reported and banned’

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Facebook and Instagram have long been known for their anti-weed stances and it appears TikTok, the most downloaded app of 2021, is even more stringent when it comes to all things cannabis.

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“We haven’t tried TikTok, because we’ve been told we can’t have anything to do with any cannabis on there, or we will get reported and banned,” an assistant manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in Colorado recently told TechSumo.

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Another store manager told the publication that, while it’s possible to find ways to sneakily post cannabis content on Instagram, users have to know how to find it.

“Being on Instagram as a dispensary is like a game you have to play. You have to change the wording and use hashtags, dollar signs or numbers,” they said, adding that TikTok, which is owned by Chinese internet technology company ByteDance Ltd., seems more adept at catching these types of posts.

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According to the TikTok’s community guidelines, the depiction, promotion, or trade of drugs or other controlled substances is prohibited.

Users are barred from most posting, uploading, streaming or otherwise sharing content “that depicts or promotes drugs, drug consumption, or encourages others to make, use, or trade drugs or other controlled substances”

Content that “depicts or promotes the misuse of legal substances, or instruction on how to make homemade substances, in an effort to become intoxicated,” is also prohibited.

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone reported that TikTok barred an advertising campaign from the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) that focused on the state’s adult-use cannabis laws. While TikTok did not respond to the publication’s request for comment the OCM said that the blanket ban on all drug content, even posts that are educational in nature, impedes the ability to inform young residents about “safe cannabis use as the legalization process moves forward.”

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Facing TikTok’s strict enforcement of cannabis content, enterprising users have become more creative in how they share weed-related posts. Likely much to the chagrin of the platform, that content is usually positive in nature, at least according to one recent study.

Published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review earlier this year, researchers found that the most popular cannabis-related videos on the platform depict cannabis use positively.

Using hashtag-based keywords, researchers found that, out of 881 popular videos analyzed, more than 70 per cent portrayed cannabis use as entertaining or humorous. Additionally, nearly half of the videos discussed personal cannabis use experiences and about a quarter promoted the “social and cultural acceptability of cannabis use.”

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Still, businesses trying to grow their brand on the platform face an uphill battle.

A German-based cannabis influencer told TechSumo that they had a number of videos deleted from their account, even though they show nothing but “paper, broccoli and my hands.”

The deleted videos and repeated warnings also mean the user isn’t able to apply for a business registration on TikTok, a requirement to earn money on the platform. The influencer has refrained from posting any content for months.

Even if users do find a way to post cannabis content to the platform, it’s unlikely to remain.

“It never works for long,” one dispensary owner told TechSumo, adding that “even if it would work, I would not want to compare our product to a spice, like oregano.”

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