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Facebook shuts down pages of legal Alaska pot shops

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Written by Kamil Arli

Facebook has shut down pages offering marijuana for sale in Alaska, angering the businesses that run them, who say they were licensed to sell it.

The social media giant said its standards describe what users can post, and content promoting marijuana sales isn’t allowed. The issue has popped up over the last few years in states that have legalized recreational and medical pot, often coming in waves, industry officials said.

Cary Carrigan, executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, said the industry has been forced to fight the same battles repeatedly as marijuana gains broader acceptance nationally.

THE DRUG IS LEGAL FOR RECREATIONAL USE IN EIGHT STATES

 The drug is legal for recreational use in eight states, but it remains illegal on the federal level. It wasn’t clear why the crackdown in Alaska happened within the past couple weeks or what specifically prompted it.

But it comes as social media sites grapple with setting boundaries for what users can post. Twitter has announced efforts to address abusive behavior, while Facebook has said it would do more to help keep violent material and hate speech off the platform.

JANA WELTZIN, AN ANCHORAGE BASED ATTORNEY WHO WORKS WITH THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY

Jana Weltzin, an Anchorage-based attorney who works with the cannabis industry, said pulling Facebook pages of marijuana businesses “has an incredibly negative, chilling effect on the commercial speech of these companies.”

TV and radio stations often do not allow marijuana advertising, so social media is a way for businesses to communicate directly with their consumers, she said. In Alaska, rules for pot advertising are unclear and inconsistent, Weltzin said.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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