Facebook removes Ohio Medical Cannabis Review page in community standards crackdown

In 2016, Facebook also shut down pages advertising dispensaries in Colorado and New Jersey


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Facebook’s community standards have put a spanner in the works for medical cannabis companies in Ohio.

Last month, the social media giant deactivated the Ohio Medical Cannabis Review page. The online platform provided social media users with a forum where they could discuss dispensary product options, such as oils, extracts and smokeable flower. As many as 35,000 people had access to the page, which published cannabis-focused posts between the months of July and August.

Six page administrators received a warning message from Facebook admins, stating that they must either remove the page completely or be suspended from the site.

Facebook accused admins of encouraging drug use, despite the fact that the plant has been legalized in the state since September 2016, when House Bill 523 went into effect.

Based on the details of Facebook’s community standards, the sale of medical cannabis is forbidden. An argument was made by the page founder Michael Reed, who claims that the site merely focused on the topic of medical cannabis, plant product quality and nothing more.

“It was a page patients could go to and see all the cool things in the program, and also get information so they are informed when they go to their local dispensary,” said Reed, who lives in Dayton.

Another Facebook page for medical cannabis in Ohio was suspended this year

Facebook’s decision to take down Ohio’s medical cannabis page was not the first time such an incident had happened. During the middle of July, a page called “We Grow Ohio” was also shut down. However, a Facebook official claims that the suspension was done by accident.

In response to the error, page administrator Robin Ann Morris announced that she would take it as a warning. Now, she pays close attention to the type(s) of content featured on the site.

“I remove them right away,” said Morris in regards to the posting of images featuring menus from medical cannabis dispensaries.

Unfortunately for Reed, medical cannabis product reviews and menus had been flagged prior to deletion of the Ohio Medical Cannabis Review page. Although he requested that Facebook users refrain from publishing such posts, he struggled.

“That’s literally what the page is for,” said Reed, who thinks that posts may potentially have been flagged by dispensary workers who felt that the content painted their employers in a negative light.

This is just a guess, however, since the social networking site doesn’t clarify who reported the posts. One such example, according to page administrator Anthony Cordlex, was a flagged image that he uploaded depicting a moldy nugget of weed purchased from an Ohio medical cannabis dispensary.

Facebook community standards have also affected other medical cannabis dispensaries

In spite of the fact that, so far, medical cannabis has been legalized in 33 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, content standards laid out by social media giant Facebook are not exactly in keeping with the nation’s updated cannabis laws.

Ohio is not the only cannabis-friendly state dealing with the repercussions of Facebook’s strict content standards. Pages advertising dispensaries located in Colorado and New Jersey were also shut down in 2016.

The purpose of these pages is to educate the general public and enlighten them on choosing strains with the best cannabinoid ratio. Since pages of this kind provide patients and caregivers with a place where they can read unbiased, honest reviews about various products sold inside dispensaries, many medical cannabis users may now go uninformed.

“A lot of us have wasted a lot of money trying to find good strains by growers,” said Reed. “If we can take out the guesswork for the patients, it helps lessen their cost.”