A few weeks ago, Hannah Smith, a 23-year-old resident of Fort Collins, Colorado, who works for her family’s CBD products company, Joy Organics, received a call from her mother asking why their Facebook page was down. Her mother suggested that the password had been changed or that someone had changed administrator rights. When Smith tried to come to his senses, she found that Facebook had stopped publishing Joy Organics’ Facebook page, branding the business as “promoting the sale of prescription drugs.”
Smith tried to file a complaint, but her request was denied. She launched a petition that garnered nearly 3,000 signatures. When she contacted contacts in the CBD industry, she learned that many other CBD companies in North Carolina, Tennessee, Colorado and Kentucky have closed their Facebook pages. According to the Boston Globe, at least six Massachusetts CBD companies have also closed their Facebook-owned Instagram accounts.
In an email Monday morning, Facebook admitted that its team had mistakenly removed the CBD and hemp pages.
“We have mistakenly removed pages for hemp and CBD oil that do not violate our policies, and we are currently working to restore those pages,” a spokesman said.
Smith is concerned about Facebook’s erroneous CBD feature. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid marijuana has become a popular ingredient in coffee and dog treats recently, but CBD is far from a prescription drug. Proponents boast that CBD has healing properties, including relieving anxiety, pain and stress, although there is not enough research on it to make definite claims. The substance is also a popular topic of discussion, as hemp, a type of cannabis from which CBD can be extracted, became legal in December thanks to Congress’ adoption of the farm bill.
“It was a big mistake that Facebook killed our page just before the holidays,” Smith said in a recent phone interview. “And we just came up with a whole marketing campaign for our new skincare line.”
Smith was aggressive in filing further appeals, and over the weekend the Joy Organics page was finally restored. But other CBD companies are still struggling to restore Facebook pages.
“I don’t understand why Facebook is attacking us now,” said Jamie Jones, 36, of Franklin, Tennessee, which owns a franchise of three CBD stores, Hempy’s. “I don’t even sell anything on our Facebook page, we just use it to educate the community and tell them about new products and new research.”
According to Facebook’s community standards for what may and may not be posted on the platform, the company says it “prohibits attempts by individuals, manufacturers and retailers to buy, sell or trade in non-medical drugs, pharmaceuticals and marijuana.” . The company’s site-specific policies also note that the company’s pages “should not promote the sale of prescription drugs.” Pharmaceuticals are allowed to have Facebook pages, but must first get permission from the social media company.
Facebook said it did not believe the hemp or CBD companies had violated any of these conditions, but did not further explain why its team removed those pages in the first place. Last week, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles even wrote a letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on behalf of the CBD business in his country, whose pages were taken down.
The moment Facebook came after the CBD companies seemed a little strange to Smith: “I still don’t know what’s behind Facebook’s actions. Ignorance? Interests of the pharmaceutical industry? ”She muses.
Several CBD companies told Vox that they did not believe that Facebook had deleted their pages by mistake. One business owner, Sunshine Biket, who runs Sunshine CBD Vape in Lafayette, Indiana, believes the adoption of the farm bill has caused confusion in the company.
“Personally, I think this is happening because they are connecting us with the big pharmaceutical industry now that hemp is legal,” Bickett said. “Pharmaceutical companies pay big money to be on Facebook, and then there are little guys like us who have pages. Once the farm bill is passed, maybe Facebook has seen an opportunity to move things.
Although the newly passed farm bill made hemp and CBD legal, the state of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid is murky at best. After the bill was passed, the FDA issued a statement stating that its views had not changed and that all CBD companies must receive FDA approval. The association also sent warning letters to several CBD companies last month, urging them to apply to the FDA.
Facebook says it is working to restore all the CBD pages on the platform soon, but its latest move shows how complex the world of CBD will become. There may be a new legal status, but it will be some time before the CBD struggles disappear forever.