The social media platform that gave way to historic and globally captivating movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter is now the in the crosshairs of stoner chicks fighting to keep their sponsored posts.
To be fair, it’s not just the stoner chicks though. (P.S. fuck yeah, stoner chicks.)
It’s the countless cultivators, entrepreneurs, influencers, businesses, public relations firms, non-profits, advertising agencies, and advocates who have been given a hard time by Big Brother, I mean…Instagram.
As a result, on Oct. 6, members of the cannabis community, or about 511 posts-worth when I last checked at 10:00 p.m., are going to repost a blackout image with the hashtag #CannabisBlackoutDay and ditch their account for 24-hours in the name of freedom of speech…or freedom of posting…or weedom in general.
As it stands in Instagram’s policy, you can post whatever duck-faced selfies (guilty) or promotions for your company event (also guilty) or crudely decontextualized quote (super fucking guilty) you’d like, but if you facilitate people smoking weed, you’re cut.
Now, this isn’t to say you can’t post weed-related content on social media. In an email to the Straight, Stephanie Noon, a brand communications manager for Instagram, confirmed that although you can’t sell cannabis, you can advocate for it.
She wrote: “Instagram does not allow content that promotes the sale of marijuana regardless of state or country. Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, web addresses or street addresses. We do allow marijuana advocacy content as long as it is not promoting the sale of the drug. Dispensaries can promote the use and federal legalization of marijuana provided that they do not also promote its sale or provide contact information to their store.”
The movement is more of a response to the recent wave of public platforms, like YouTube and Instagram, proverbially guillotining any users promoting illegal activities. The trend of pulling the account of anyone who remotely comes close to encouraging the sale or showing the production of weed seems defensible, until you wade into the bong water where the definition of “illegal activity” changes based on which state or region you’re posting from.
This push for autonomy, for example, is coming just a few weeks shy of the federal legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada.
The movement was pitched by Bess Byers, a cannabis photographer and social weedia maven, after having to fight to recover her Instagram account from deletion-sans-warning. The influencer chose to gift a brash show of her 95,000-plus-follower influence to Instagram just in time for the platform’s eighth birthday.
The goal of the movement is to remind Instagram of the sheer number of regular cannabis consumers that makeup their body of users—hopefully encouraging them to either lighten up on the ol’ “eject” button or soften their policy on cannabis-related content.
If you wish to participate in the viralism, repost one of the images below—one of which was designed by Dina Rodriguez, a lettering artist and illustrator from Portland, Oregon—and just play Solitaire instead of boredom scrolling through your feed.
On @Instagram’s release date October 6, 2010, only five states allowed medical cannabis consumption. As we approach Instagram’s eighth birthday, laws have changed. Currently nine states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational cannabis, and 30 states allow medicinal use. It seems the only place legalization is NOT happening, is on Instagram. I woke up yesterday morning to find @imcannabess deleted AGAIN. I decided to take action and stated a petition demanding Instagram update their Terms of Service to include the #cannabiscommunity. If you agree, please click the link in my bio, sign the petition and share. We are in this together and it’s time we make our community heard!! #cannabess #PetitionToInstagram . #bringimcannabessback #censorship #i502 #legalweed #togetherwegrow