Dealers Pushing Pot on Social Networks Create Legal Haze

Who knew Twitter, Facebook and MySpace were gateway drugs? It started off as something social, but now some California medical marijuana dispensaries are using the popular social networks to update their clientele, and anyone else who's interested, on what they have to offer.

"BB Kush, NY Soma, SD Strom, Forrest G, Green C, Baby Crunch, Spy Diesel, buy 1/4 get gram free. Baked goods, Grams, Joints avail." reads the Twitter stream for Artists Collective, a Hollywood based dispensary. Artists Collective also has Facebook and Myspace pages touting their free delivery service, as do other medical marijuana dispensaries, like San Francisco's Green Cross. In California, it's legal to cultivate and dispense marijuana for medical purposes provided both grower and buyer adhere to state regulations. But is it legal to advertise those products and services that are illegal in most other states (and countries) on the Internet?

Pot twitter

Facebook seems to think not. Senior Communications Manager Barry Schnitt issued the following statement: "We do not allow people to promote illegal activities on Facebook. Section 3.4 of the SRR states: You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory," also telling AllFacebook the site will aid in criminal prosecutions of those who abuse the site's policy. Facebook pledged to disband any groups caught soliciting pot, but Artists Collective's Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace pages are still up, as are pages for other dispensaries.

Pot Facebook

The question is, whose laws do social networks have to follow? The Web may seem borderless, but as companies like Google and Yahoo have found in China and, more recently, Twitter and Facebook found in Iran, virtual boundaries do exist. So what's a company like Facebook or Twitter to do? It will be interesting to see how Silicon Valley finesses this one, particularly because the companies are based in California where the dispensaries are considered legitimate enterprises (at least in the eyes of the law).

If nothing else comes of this chapter in the social media narrative, at least the sites--especially the not-so-profitable Twitter--can take heart that enterprising young business people view them as vehicles for commercial success. "Only in the last two weeks with a Twitter account has anybody started paying attention to us," Artists Collective director Dann Halem told Fox News. If that's not a ringing endorsement, we don't know what is.

[via Fox, AllFacebook]

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5 Comments

  • Harry Otsuji

    Inasmuch as pot addiction and use continues unabated, and government spends billions in ineffective control activities, wouldn't it be better for society as a whole to legalize marijuana use, with these pot3entially positive results:
    1. Save billions in enforement costs, and transfer personnel to fill other positions, being created by the current adminsitration, "to save" the country
    2. Government taxes distribution like alcohol, generating billions in revenue
    3. Once marijuana use is legalized, the thrill of illegal use would disappear, potentially reducing the use of the stuff
    4. Help to calm the nerves of millions being affected by the financial crisis, being abetted by government itself
    5. Help solve south-of-the-border international problems, especially with Mexico, regarding smuggling of marijuana into U.S.

    You may see other benefits, which can be added to the above list.

    Faithfullky yours,

    /s/ Harry H. Otsuji

  • Harry Otsuji

    Inasmuch as pot addiction and use continues unabated, and government spends billions in ineffective control activities, wouldn't it be better for society as a whole to legalize marijuana use, with these pot3entially positive results:
    1. Save billions in enforement costs, and transfer personnel to fill other positions, being created by the current adminsitration, "to save" the country
    2. Government taxes distribution like alcohol, generating billions in revenue
    3. Once marijuana use is legalized, the thrill of illegal use would disappear, potentially reducing the use of the stuff
    4. Help to calm the nerves of millions being affected by the financial crisis, being abetted by government itself
    5. Help solve south-of-the-border international problems, especially with Mexico, regarding smuggling of marijuana into U.S. related to

    You may see other benefits, which can be added to the above list.

    Faithfullky yours,

    /s/ Harry H. Otsuji

  • G R

    This is an unwinable battle. The world will ALWAYS be bigger than any media sharing peon. In this case, just let it go fellas. You have no chance. All you will do is make more enemies.

  • Gen Hendrey

    Facebook's take on this issue is rich. Do they mean they're also going to start going after the uploaders of the millions of photos housed on Facebook servers that obviously violate Facebook policies and promote illegal activities like underage drinking and underage sex?

  • Demetri Pavlides

    come on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, how you gonna tackle this one? :)