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Instagram continues to delete Canada’s authorized hashish accounts

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Instagram continues to frustrate legal cannabis companies in Canada in what some business owners see as random and arbitrary enforcement actions.

Leafly spoke to three legal cannabis retailers whose accounts have been deleted in the past few weeks, a non-medical store in Alberta, a medical cannabis retailer in Ontario, and the third, a non-medical retailer in Toronto.

The actions, it is said, had no opportunity to appeal or learn details of the decision.

Ryan Roch, the owner of Lakeburn Cannabis, an Alberta independent cannabis retailer, said he recently woke up to a message from Instagram telling him he needed to change his phone number.

“Instagram asked me to change my phone number. When that happened and I changed the phone number, I was banned from the account and said we’d violated community guidelines, and then that was it,” Roch explains.

“I can’t even appeal. I found a random email form on Instagram and that was the only way to address it I found, but I didn’t hear anything back. “

Roch says he has no idea why the account was deleted, but is already creating a new backup account and reaching out to his followers and customers through other social media channels and email.

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Andrew Rhodes, co-owner of The Neighborhood Joint in Toronto, says the same thing happened to them recently.

“It doesn’t have a big impact on our business, but it hurts,” says Rhodes. “We’re a legal company that rules by the rules, and while we don’t rely on Instagram for anything in particular, it’s a great way to reach a particular segment of the population.

“In the future we will continue to use Instagram and Facebook, but we will make a concerted effort to use other social media platforms that do not discriminate legal entities as a primary focus.”

Angelo Muscari, co-founder of Hybrid Pharm in Ontario, a pharmacy that provides access to cannabis for medicinal purposes, says her Instagram account recently suffered the same fate. Like Roch, he said he woke up to a message from Instagram that his account had been deleted and had not given an opportunity to appeal the decision.

“It’s a big circle of nowhere,” says Muscari of the possibilities to appeal against the deletion. “Simply send all links back to a help center or FAQ area. There is no number, no email and no way to veto. It’s very complicated and frustrating. “

Instagram did not respond to a request for comment. The terms of use state that “no person or organization may use their platform to promote or sell marijuana, regardless of the state or country of the seller.” The Terms of Service also state that if you’ve removed an account for violating Instagram’s policies, you will not be able to open a new account.

Numerous legal and illegal cannabis companies have thrived on the platform for years, and enforcement seems arbitrary at best. Muscari suspects it could be the result of people reporting accounts for removal rather than proactively enforcing them through Instagram.

“To be honest, I think that’s exactly what happened. Someone is just a little hurt or offended or just not the biggest fan. “

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Muscari says he managed multiple Instagram accounts for various cannabis companies and removed individual posts or received warnings. However, this is the first time an account has been deleted. Unlike the other acts, which he sees as more of a slap on the wrist, this decision is permanent and cannot be challenged.

“In contrast to a brief suspension of your account, the message ‘Your account has been deleted because it does not meet our conditions. You cannot log into this account and no one can see it. We cannot recover accounts that have been deleted due to this type of violation. “

“I think the biggest thing for anyone who has had their account stolen is why? If you can at least send a human call or email to say that this is the violation, that would really bring clarity so that I won’t make this mistake in the future. “

Roch at Lakeburn Cannabis says he’s learned not to rely on just an Instagram account or just a social media platform.

“If anything, my story is a cautionary one,” says Roch. “Everyone should prepare to be knocked down. Perhaps that means having multiple accounts, making sure you have an email list of your customers, that you have other ways they can communicate with you, and that you make the time for these other channels and media. ”

Roch said his store’s Instagram account was restored on Friday 20th, although no explanation was given. On the same day, his shop’s Facebook page received a three-day ban after sharing a cross post from his re-established Instagram account. Facebook owns Instagram.

While frustrating, Muscari also says that social media is such a popular means of communication that he has no choice but to open a new account.

“As much as I’d like to give up the social, we have no choice but to start over,” he says. “We live in a time when social media controls a lot of what people see and what they think, how they get their education, how they have access to information. Unfortunately, any company not ready to start over would be another nail in its coffin. “

David Brown

David Brown has been working in and writing about the Canadian cannabis industry since 2012. Previously, he was the Editor-in-Chief and Communications Director for Lift Cannabis and Lift News, Senior Policy Advisor for the Cannabis Legalization Division of Health Canada, and is the founder of StratCann Services Inc.

View article by David Brown

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