Thursday, May 19, 2022

Facebook bans ads from hemp-based businesses — although products are legal

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Facebook and Instagram’s strict advertising policies are hurting small businesses that produce products from cannabis – although the cannabis crop hasn’t taken you to the top, it has been legal for decades and was grown by George Washington.

Mike Guz, a 41-year-old entrepreneur who runs a company that makes tortilla chips from hemp seeds in New York, said his company’s ads have been rejected since 2019 for violating a ban on Facebook advertising “illegal products or services”. ”.

Although hemp is derived from the same plant as marijuana, but a high-protein ingredient that does not contain THC – it has been used for decades in foods such as granola. In 2018, Congress passed a law legalizing hemp cultivation across the country.

“Every ad was rejected,” Goz said angrily, calling his company “Let There Be Hemp”. “Given that the canopy was legitimate, we were very confused as to why they would reject them.”

Mike Goz (right) sells canola tortilla chips.

When the founder complained to Facebook, the company did not provide much clarity. In a puzzling e-mail sent to The Post, a Facebook support worker named Ameli told Goose that even though she did not promote the illegal substance, “sometimes some content related to the content identified as dangerous could be detected. he said.

Goose said the surprising ban undermined his ability to find customers and grow his business.

“Our biggest challenge right now is our ability to make a name for ourselves,” Goose said.

Goose’s plight highlights how important Facebook ads are to small businesses in America. According to a 2021 survey, 66 percent of small businesses in the U.S. use Facebook for advertising, while 41 percent use Instagram.

“Facebook ads are important for a business like this because we don’t have big budgets,” Goose said. “Facebook allows you to achieve a goal that is truly effective, geographically and based on likes and interests.”

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, did not respond to a request for comment on the incident. Meta advertising rules do not name cannabis, but “Facebook prohibits the sale or use of illicit or recreational drugs or other hazardous substances, products or additives at its sole discretion”.

Doozy Pots gelato box
Wonderlab’s Doozy Pots has removed the word “cannabis” from its packaging to comply with Facebook policy.

Wonderlab’s Doozy Pots – a cannabis gelato maker in Cincinnati, Ohio – has found a creative way to follow Facebook’s policy after several ads were banned: it completely removed the word “cannabis” from their packaging. After they made the change, their ads began to be approved.

But according to co-founders Kirsten and Carl Sutaria, the forced rebranding by Facebook as “plant-based” rather than “canopy” makes it harder to stand out from the competition.

“If our competitors use a coconut or cashew base, they can talk about the benefits of using that base,” Carl Sutaria told The Post. “We can’t talk about hemp in our ads. This is an unfair shortcoming for us. ”

And just like Goose’s situation, the sutars ’attempts to contact Facebook didn’t help.

Kirsten Sutaria says Facebook's advertising policy will take her company to the next level
Kirsten Sutaria said Facebook’s advertising policy has “unfairly damaged” her company.

“I’ve talked to people there and it’s just not a priority,” Kirsten Sutaria said.

Despite his frustration with Facebook, the duo says recycling their packaging was the right choice because the site is a very valuable marketing tool.

“It’s the two of us, so it’s great to reach a few thousand people for $ 50,” Kirsten Sutaria said.

While Sutarias and Goose do not use CBD in their products, other small businesses that use weed-related products have also been concerned about Meta advertising policies.

In 2019, a CBD entrepreneur sued Facebook in a New York federal court for banning advertising, and the company claimed it had “incorrectly censored” ads for an online conference on the substance. The claim was later dismissed.

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