Facebook sued by seven Oklahoma medical cannabis businesses for discrimination

“Facebook has an arbitrary, subjective, discriminatory and archaic policy and their policy does not apply to all,” the petition reads

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Facebook sued by seven Oklahoma medical cannabis businesses for discrimination

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Cannabis shop owners in seven separate Oklahoma locations have filed an angry lawsuit against the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook. Allegations have been made against the master creation of Mark Zuckerberg by plaintiffs who claim that they’ve unfairly been locked in “Facebook jail” as a result of posting CBD-focused content.

The claim originated from Danna Malone – the CEO of Ye Olde Apothecary Shoppe – who was then joined by six other angry cannabis dispensary store owners in Oklahoma.

It’s not just Facebook CEO Zuckerberg who is being faced with the medical cannabis lawsuit. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and executive team member Peter Thiel are also being slapped with this CBD lawsuit, which sees the plaintiffs seeking to attain more than $75,000 in damages caused by “economic harm.”

Facebook is targeting random cannabis businesses, plaintiffs claim

The court order filed by Oklahoma’s medical cannabis dispensaries also urges Facebook to remove censors from CBD business pages. Facebook has “a pattern of targeting the Oklahoma medical [cannabis] industry,” according to the lawsuit.

Based on the details of the cannabis lawsuit against Facebook, Oklahoma’s dispensary owners actively utilized the platform to promote their brands and engage with consumers. 

CBD advertisers are told not to post images and videos if they promote the sale of ‘”non-medical drugs, pharmaceutical drugs and [cannabis].” However, this is not specifically outlined in Facebook’s advertising policies.

In addition to Malone, other six plaintiffs are as follows:

  • Monica Green; Owner of the Greens Bakery in Tulsa 
  • Paul Gossett; owner of Tribal Nations CBD Outlet 
  • Shawn Jenkins; owner of FlowerCraft Co. of Tulsa and Coweta
  • Sherri and Donny Taylor; owners of Stoned 4 Survival in Grant
  • Rachel Nathaniel Duggan; owner of Top Shelf Growers Inc. in Claremore
  • Samantha Ditata; owner of Cannabis Island in Del City.

“Facebook has an arbitrary, subjective, discriminatory and archaic policy and their policy does not apply to all,” the petition reads. “It is just random. Or at least it appears to be random. There is no way for an individual or a business to contact anyone within Facebook to get assistance. They hide behind their keyboards and mete out whatever punishment they feel if they find that you have committed an infraction to their subjective community standards.”

Facebook is headquartered in cannabis-friendly California

Despite its prohibitionist approach to CBD marketing, the official headquarters for Facebook can be found in California. This U.S. state is one of 33 to have passed legalization in some form and it is acknowledged to harness the biggest cannabis market in the nation; open to both medical and recreational consumers.

The plaintiff who originally filed this cannabis lawsuit against Facebook – Malone of the Ye Olde Apothecary Shoppe – claims that the social media giant proceeded to “wage a campaign of discrimination, censorship, and harassment” after she set up a business page for her Oklahoma cannabis dispensary last year.

In their argument, the plaintiffs affirm that Facebook has “arbitrarily unpublished” their cannabis company pages. They say that this has caused their businesses to suffer from a loss of “untold dollars in revenue.”

“The defendants pick and choose what is against community standards and what is not,” Malone wrote. “They do not have a set standard.”

Social media users struggle to find cannabis pages on Facebook 

Users of the social media platform have reportedly been unable to find cannabis-related pages on the site since Facebook crawls the platform to weed-out search terms related to “marijuana.” Searches for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority are redirected to a non-existent page. This is pretty shocking, considering the fact that the OMMA is the state’s regulatory agency for the legal weed industry.

Facebook’s restrictions on cannabis advertising are indicative of strict regulation that currently consumes the market. Cannabis’ federal classification as a Schedule I substance puts ‘cannapreneurs’ in a sticky situation. Until cannabis is legalized at the federal level, businesses operating in the industry must be cautious about posting CBD health claims that could potentially land them in hot water with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and result in their social media accounts being stopped in their tracks.

On the plus side, Facebook announced it would start allowing some CBD ads last month. Ads directing customers to landing pages that feature ingestible or topical hemp-derived CBD products will now be permitted, according to the state’s updated advertising policies.