Culture Tech

Instagram Allows Ads Selling Illegal Drugs

Social media has made it incredibly easy for businesses to advertise their products across an immense network of targeted audiences. And with the accessibility of advertising, comes the ease of abuse. Maybe you’ve seen a few of these ads sprinkled across your Instagram feeds, offering to sell or deliver you “top shelf” weed, with all the strains and prices you’d dream of -- all listed under a mobile phone number.

It’s a common advertisement that creeps its way into spammy comment on websites, or in my case - a simple stolen image of a woman smoking, with a pot leaf and phone number superimposed on it. I did what all of you should do when you see trash like this: I reported it immediately to Instagram under their “sale of promotion of drugs” category.

What shocked me was the reply from Instagram, provided through their recently upgraded support system that responds to each report. Apparently the post that was clearly offering cannabis, depicted by the leaf and smoking imagery, wasn’t enough to convince the Instagram support staff it was a drug dealer in disguise.

While legal cannabis businesses can’t participate in the Facebook, Instagram, or any mainstream advertising channel -- and Instagram even BANS weed accounts every other day -- but they’ll take money from a drug dealer to peddle his product on their app. Fuck that. I ask myself every day, how the fuck did High Times get verified on Instagram - while other weed accounts drop like flies? And we find out through leaks that ex-Instagram employees take money under the table to verify stoner accounts.

These ads will most likely continue, as Instagram and other social media networks struggle to regulate them from even Russian spys. But I write this in hopes that it raises awareness for the current state of cannabis advertising, and how legal weed companies are forced to struggle by these two-faced corporate asshats. Show some love to your favorite cannabis brand and make sure you’re still following them on IG, cause they’ve probably disappeared from your feed in night after an Instagram weed raid.

Related: advertising