Google, Facebook, and Digital Marijuana Advertising

google-01Google is usually portrayed as a progressive company, but those at the Googleplex are dragging their feet when it comes to marijuana.

Google is flatly denying advertising privileges to medical marijuana businesses. They are not the only ones; Facebook and Twitter seem to have similar ad policies.

So what does this mean for cannabis companies or local ganjapreneurs? Larger cannabis operations with mighty marketing budgets probably see these policies as speed bumps, but for smaller operations hoping to grow, these restrictions are much more frustrating. In an article on bizjournals.com, Vireo Health, a company with medical marijuana dispensaries in Minnesota and New York, brought this issue into attention. After trying to buy some digital ad space on Google they received a rejection notice stating Google prohibits advertisements for “dangerous products or services.”

Here is Google’s official advertising policy posted on their website:

“We want to help keep people safe both online and offline, so we don’t allow the promotion of some products or services that cause damage, harm, or injury.”

At first glance that policy may seem fair enough. However, medical marijuana should not fall in that category of “illegal or illicit” products. They need to consider that times are changing and maybe their ad policy should too. Medically and recreationally, the legal cannabis industry is blowing up in the U.S. Now is the time for big-name companies to recognize it and get on board.

An article from the Huffington Post on this same issue seems to have a more thorough answer from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google. A spokesman for Facebook gave this reasoning behind their ad space decision against marijuana, “The legality around the sale and use of marijuana greatly varies around the world, which is part of the reason why we strictly prohibit the promotion of the sale and use of the drug itself. The risk of attempting to allow ads promoting the drug in certain states or countries where it is legal is too high for us to consider at this time.”

It comes as no surprise that giant corporations don’t want to meddle too much in such sensitive issues, but the normalization of cannabis advertising is inevitable. In the words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin.'”