Bright green trichome coated flowers. Purple nugs. Billowing clouds of smoke. Elaborate glass pieces. Laughter and community. The interesting characters. Cannabis culture is best communicated with images and visuals. At it's core, Instagram is a social media platform based around the sharing of photos and videos. Beyond the basics of person to person connections, Instagram has become a place for brands to establish their identities and connect directly with their customers. Instagram has also become a home to numerous cannabis influencers who are sharing their cannabis use in their everyday life.
With a culture best communicated by images and an industry that desperately needs to connect directly with customers one would think that Instagram would be eager to court such a large, and growing, community. The reality could not be further from that logical ideal. Instagram does not seem to be making much of an effort distinguish between branding building or destigmatizing activities of cannabis influencers and the few bad actors that may be trying to convert Instagram into an underground drug market. To be fair, there are definitely some truly nefarious characters that are trying to do exactly that. There are many accountholders who, while they may be selling cannabis, have content on their profile that is also advertising illegal prescription drugs, hard street drugs and even handguns. I can't share a picture of cannabis flower and tag the local dispensary I got it from but these users can push dangerous drugs and handguns. Instagram has powerful algorithms and AI which they should apply to weeding out these accounts spreading actual death and destruction.
As a cannabis and Instagram user the hypocrisy of Instagram's stance on cannabis is extremely apparent. Somehow Instagram interprets their policy to allow them to accept advertising money from large nutrient companies that are aimed to the cannabis industry. The advertising from these companies is heavy on images of cannabis and talk of cannabis. Instagram is actually pushing this content. These same policies are then also interpreted to mean that a cannabis influencer should receive a content strike for posting an image of a product they like and recommend. In the world of Instagram acceptability is influenced by the depth of your pockets and how far you plan to reach into them.
If Instagram does not signal an interest in becoming more welcoming to the cannabis community it may be time to consider some other options. While the cannabis specific social media platforms do not have the reach of the traditional mainstream platforms directly cannabis related content is not only allowed but is welcomed and encouraged. Now is the time for cannabis users and brands alike to begin exploring these other options. When it becomes clear that Instagram will continue the needless account deactivations, shadow bans and content deletion the platform for the cannabis community should, en masse, use the platform for the sole purpose of indicating the new of home of their cannabis content. For now, you can find me on Instagram as @afriendwithweed585, but when the time comes for our mass exodus I’ve already claimed the same username on CannaBuzz - stop over and say high.