Why Did My Cannabis Dispensary Get Banned On Instagram?

If you run a cannabis-themed Instagram account, you may have already experienced Instagram bans. Even something as minor as hashtags can result in your cannabis-themed Instagram account being suspended. In light of Instagram’s ongoing scrutiny of cannabis-related content, bans on cannabis hashtags may increase the risk to your account and your social media strategy. Instagram might flag your account for posting banned hashtags.

Banned Hashtags on Instagram
Banned Hashtags on Instagram

Banned Hashtags

Using banned hashtags on your Instagram account can significantly leave your account behind. In addition, Instagram flags your account as having suspicious sales of cannabis products. This could be the primary reason why Instagram disables your account.

Instagram Disabled My Dispensary Account
Instagram Disabled My Dispensary Account

Instagram Disabled My Dispensary Account

The Instagram platform has a history of disabling dispensary accounts that contain marijuana-related content, regardless of whether the account explicitly sells marijuana. No matter the state or country where the seller is located, Instagram does not allow individuals or organizations to promote or sell cannabis. All cannabis retailers, including dispensaries, are prohibited from advertising their business on Instagram. Cannabis company accounts providing contact information, such as a phone number, email, or street address, or using the “contact us” tab violate their policies.

Instagram Removing Cannabis Content
Instagram Removing Cannabis Content

Instagram Removing Cannabis Content

The terms of use also include the right for Instagram accounts to remove cannabis content without notice if your postings put them in danger of breaking the law. As part of Instagram’s policy of moralizing pot, which is aimed at protecting underage users, any content that features marijuana will be enforced. However, due to Instagram’s lack of clearly defined policies and its use of AI and human moderators, cannabis restriction on the platform is probably unpredictable.

Instagram's Algorithm Looks for Cannabis Content
Instagram’s Algorithm Looks for Cannabis Content

Instagram’s Algorithm Looks for Cannabis Content

From its algorithms to privacy controls, Instagram’s algorithms are looking for cannabis-related content, preparing to shadowban or terminate accounts. It appears that Instagram is increasingly viewing marijuana as an unacceptable subject matter on Instagram. Recently, however, Instagram seems to have cracked down even harder on cannabis-related content.

META, Facebook, and Instagram Don't Like Cannabis
META, Facebook, and Instagram Don’t Like Cannabis

META, Facebook, and Instagram Don’t Like Cannabis

Despite cannabis becoming increasingly acceptable globally and a mainstream issue, big platforms like Facebook and Instagram remain firmly against it and continue to close their pages. Companies and influencers still get labeled left and right even when they follow the best tips and guidelines for avoiding getting deleted and blackballed from social media. Despite all these tips and guidelines, brands still face shadowbans, suspended accounts, and deleted accounts regularly.
There have been numerous suspensions, removals, and notices on Instagram lately, and marketers, journalists, and brands report similar problems.

Individuals continue claiming that their Instagram accounts have been removed for cannabis-related content, despite not advertising marijuana sales or cannabis consumption on the META app.

What are Instagram's Cannabis Guidelines to Follow
What are Instagram’s Cannabis Guidelines to Follow

What are Instagram’s Cannabis Guidelines to Follow?

Consequently, marijuana businesses create Instagram profiles, thinking they’ll get through the guidelines. Instead, however, after weeks or years of generating an audience, they’ll have their profiles deleted, suspended, or otherwise censored. On Facebook, for instance, legal marijuana businesses, advocacy groups, and state agencies, such as the California Bureau of Marijuana Control, complain about being shadow banned on Facebook.

It is Still Possible To Be on Instagram
It is Still Possible To Be on Instagram

It is Still Possible To Be on Instagram

It is still possible for businesses to reach customers using social media platforms, even when they are unfriendly to the industry. Facebook and Instagram, both owned by Meta, do not explicitly block marijuana dispensary searches, product posts, or influencers. Like Facebook and Tiktok, other social media platforms are incredibly restrictive with cannabis plant images. Even though it is still forbidden to use or sell cannabis on Instagram, the portrayal of the plant is permitted.

Instagram Influencers are Less Likely to be Banned
Instagram Influencers are Less Likely to be Banned

Instagram Influencers are Less Likely to be Banned

This allows cannabis connoisseurs and influencers to reach out to audiences and communities, even though it is still a risky venture. Even with these strict guidelines, cannabis users are still finding their way onto TikTok – but their content is different. The small number of cannabis-related videos that make their way onto TikTok is due to removing all cannabis-related phrases.

Discussions to Define the Rules are Underway
Discussions to Define the Rules are Underway

Discussions to Define the Rules are Underway

Many American operators believe that having access to the social platform with clear guidelines will allow them to promote marijuana-related goods and services. Discussions around changing these policies to include the cannabis industry are underway, but no conclusion has been reached yet.

CBD Companies Run Risk on Instagram as Well
CBD Companies Run Risk on Instagram as Well

CBD Companies Run Risk on Instagram as Well

This is a positive development for CBD and marijuana businesses. However, it does not free up CBD or cannabis accounts for posting anything and everything while trying to sell more CBD products on Instagram.

Weedmaps and #weedmap Were Banned
Weedmaps and #weedmap Were Banned

Weedmaps and #weedmap Were Banned

It has been years since Weedmaps’ cannabis technology company was blocked from Instagram, and even the hashtag #weedmap is not permitted. In the middle of December 2021, Weedmaps’ official Instagram account, which has more than 539,000 followers, was removed but was later reinstated in January 2022.

Facebook & Instagram's AI Target Cannabis Images
Facebook & Instagram’s AI Target Cannabis Images

Facebook & Instagram’s AI Target Cannabis Images

In addition, it was revealed in late 2020 that Instagram and Facebook had significantly changed their AI content detection limits, targeting marijuana accounts and photos.

In addition to not advertising sales or usage of illicit, prescription, or recreational drugs, social media giants Instagram and Facebook have policies about drugs and drug-related products.

Paraphernalia is Also Banned
Paraphernalia is Also Banned

Paraphernalia is Also Banned

First, images that depict substances, such as bongs or rolling papers, are not to be used. Pictures that depict recreational drugs themselves are not to be used. Finally, images showing cannabis as a medicinal or recreational product should not be posted.

Even a Stationary Company was Shadowbanned
Even a Stationary Company was Shadowbanned

Even a Stationary Company was Shadowbanned

Even a business that sells stationary has been targeted, which resulted in a shadowban. A shadow ban is when the only way to see a person’s content is by specifically navigating to their page. With this status, Instagram keeps the profile visible. Still, it changes it so that the content no longer appears in news feeds or searches.

As long as this blocklisting continues, it will become more apparent what Instagram’s position is regarding normalization.

Use Disclaimers, and Clearly notate 21+ Only
Use Disclaimers, and Clearly notate 21+ Only

Use Disclaimers, and Clearly notate 21+ Only

On all photos containing cannabis, disclaimers must state that the content is intended for adults only, and prices cannot be posted. Cannabis cannot be sold online.

Problematically, even if all of these precautions are added, any cannabis account can be shut down without warning.
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