Stop Facebook, Inc. from Silencing Legal Cannabis in Canada
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We are the People's Alliance of Cannabis in Canada (PACC), an advocacy group for professionals and consumers in Canada. We would like to call for the immediate discontinuation of Facebook, Inc.'s acts of silencing of cannabis businesses, private groups, and individuals on their various platforms.
The Cannabis Act & Gaps in Education
On October 17, 2018, cannabis was legalized across Canada at the federal level, lifting an over 100-year prohibition on the sales of cannabis and allowing millions of Canadians to access cannabis safely and conveniently. A review of Statistics Canada data shows that sales of cannabis average $5 million per day since legalization.
Unfortunately, Canadians are not provided the necessary education to use cannabis safely and with intention and full knowledge of its potential effects on the body and mind at the point of sale.
The Cannabis Act limits how cannabis can be addressed within legal cannabis retail stores, leaving cannabis consumers without crucial education. Many skilled and knowledgeable "cannabis educators" have arisen across Canada to fill the gap for the need for education on cannabis as a substance. To do this, several Facebook and Instagram-based individuals, consultancies, pages, and groups have arisen that fill the necessary demand for cannabis education as the plant becomes more widely available and used by Canadians.
The Silencing of Cannabis Educators
As an example, a women-led Canadian private group with almost 5,000 members created a safe place for Canadian women to ask questions about medicating with legal cannabis. This private, 19+ only group provided supplementary information about cannabis while promoting only access. Facebook, Inc. has recently targeted groups like this with significant challenges that threaten to abolish their existence and ability to address some of the most critical concerns and issues surrounding cannabis use.
The cannabis community will not stand for the intentional, yet arbitrary, shutting down of cannabis content that seeks to legally educate, inform, and promote the legal cannabis plant in our nation.
Oppressive Community Standards for Cannabis
The Facebook, Inc. Community Standards unnecessarily lumps cannabis in with other substances, reading:
To encourage safety and compliance with common legal restrictions, we prohibit attempts by individuals, manufacturers, and retailers to purchase, sell, or trade non-medical drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, and marijuana.
As Facebook, Inc. users, we are asked not to post:
Content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, donate, gift, or solicit marijuana or pharmaceutical drugs.
Measures Cannabis Educators in Canada Currently Take
It is important to point out that cannabis educators in Canada take every measure to ensure that their platforms:
- Do not provide avenues for purchasing cannabis other than hosting user reviews of legally-obtained cannabis products from Health Canada approved Licensed Producers and Cannabis Retail Stores;
- Do not offer the selling of cannabis on their platforms, and take every measure to ensure members understand and abide by this restriction;
- Do not engage in trading of cannabis products on social media platforms, although The Cannabis Act permits the sharing of cannabis up to a maximum of 30 grams; Information about growing and cultivation is also communicated within the regulations of The Cannabis Act;
- Do not donate cannabis in any way to any member or outside individual or community organization;
- Do not engage cannabis providers to use groups as a means to advertise or promote cannabis outside the regulations of The Cannabis Act
Promoting Safety of a Regulated Substance
Cannabis is a powerful substance that is provided in ways to Canadians that could have retailers facing liability if the necessary education surrounding its use does not accompany its sale.
As such, online forums protect the safety of Canadians, providing information about cannabinoids, potency levels, terpenes, dosing, methods of administration, and how cannabis may or may not affect certain medical conditions in a way that those who sell it cannot.
Response and Demands
In response to Facebook, Inc.'s recent actions to close groups, delete content, place restrictions on personal accounts, and silence cannabis education, The People's Alliance of Cannabis in Canada (PACC), along with this petition's co-signers, demand that Facebook, Inc.:
- Revise their platforms' Community Standards for accounts located in Canada to permit the posting and sharing of educational content surrounding cannabis, per the regulations of The Cannabis Act;
- Develop a framework that clearly defines the type of content that Facebook, Inc. will flag or take action on regarding legal cannabis;
- Allow for a further appeal process for "flagged" content that allows cannabis educators to dialogue with Facebook, Inc. regarding the content of concern
We understand that the restrictions on cannabis are put into place for a reason, and we are prepared to work collaboratively with Facebook, Inc. and its affiliates to resolve this issue.
We envision a future where the way we educate about cannabis in Canada is as free as the plant itself.
Thank you for your consideration,
On behalf of the co-signers of this petition
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