Three of New Jersey’s five medical marijuana dispensaries logged on to their Facebook pages on Tuesday to see a message saying that they were no longer visible on the social media platform. Why? Because, according to Facebook, they violated ad policies that prohibit the promotion of selling drugs, even though medical marijuana has been legal in the garden state since 2011.
This is a huge blow to New Jersey’s legal marijuana program. This was due to the fact the state has strict rules regarding what dispensaries can publish on their websites. These dispensaries use social media to connect to the 5,500 registered mmj patients in the state, which allows them to notify what strains are available when, as well as what ailments can be treated.
“It’s doing a real disservice to the patients of New Jersey,” said Peter Rosenfeld, a board member of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey. “They’re treating it like they’re selling marijuana illegally when it’s a fully sanctioned nonprofit that’s controlled and regulated by the state of New Jersey.”
Amy Marie Keller of Roselle Park, NJ uses medical marijuana to treat her Variegate Porphyria, a disorder that can cause seizures and painful intestinal issues due to a lack of oxygen in her blood. Sour Diesel, Nigerian Haze, and Blackwater are the strains that allow her the most relief. They are hard to come by, and she relies on these Facebook pages to help her plan out when her medication will be available.
“Now I have no idea,” she said. “I tried calling but they didn’t pick up. Probably everybody is calling. I would hate to tie up their phone lines and bother them every morning about that.”
Where else has this happened:
As of yesterday, the two remaining dispensaries in New Jersey had not been affected by the shutdown. Also, it is unclear how or why Facebook chose the three they did. New Jersey is not the first state to be targeted by Facebook, either. Dispensaries in California, Washington, and Maine have also had their pages shut down.
Aaron Epstein, the general manager for a dispensary called Garden State, which was affected by the shutdown, said, “If Facebook doesn’t want to be a part of that, that’s their prerogative. We’ll find other avenues to get information to our patients.”
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