Medical marijuana is currently legal in 23 states of America, helping to treat a large variety of illnesses from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cancer, and a variety of other ailments and disorders. In New Jersey, marijuana is used medically by over 5,000 patients and over 300 doctors prescribe its use in treating a variety of issues. Due to the fact that federal law still prohibits the sale and possession of marijuana, dispensaries are not allowed to advertise and the information made available on their websites is very restricted. Therefore, Facebook has been the main tool used to communicate with patients.
Facebook’s Hardline Against New Jersey Marijuana Dispensaries
On Tuesday though, three of the five dispensaries in New Jersey had their Facebook page shut down without warning. Facebook bans the promotion of tobacco, guns, and drug use. The dispensaries were informed that they were violating page policies by advertising the use of drugs. The New Jersey marijuana dispensaries involved include Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge, Breakwater Treatment and Wellness in Cranbury, and Compassionate Sciences in Bellmawr.
Despite the legal nature of the New Jersey marijuana dispensaries, the pages were removed. This has been happening to dispensaries around the country for some time now and due to the restrictions placed on websites and advertising it has made it especially difficult for patients to communicate with each other about the various strains or get up to date information about what is available near them.
More Than an Inconvenience to Patients
There are so many different strains of marijuana available, each treating medical issues differently and exhibiting various effects depending on the specific crop from which they are grown. Having up to date information about what is available daily and what local reports say about the various strains means the difference between living in pain or living in health to the thousands of patients who depend on the dispensaries for comfortable living. New Jersey Marijuana dispensaries are often so inundated with in-person business that the ability to give a quick broadcast on the day’s strains and updates as well as the means for local patients to talk with each other is essential.
Life Beyond Facebook
These New Jersey marijuana dispensaries have stated that if their pages don’t get reinstated they will find another way of communicating with patients. Still, patients are very upset and angry and many, feeling that they have been let down, have suggested that the community leave Facebook entirely. Due to the busy nature of the dispensaries, patients are having trouble getting the information they need by phone. Therefore, people have been left in the dark when the specific strain that treats their disorder has become available, making life more painful and difficult for them.
Spokeswoman for Facebook, Arielle Aryah, said in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press that the pag
es were “removed for violating our Community Standards.” Peter Rosenfeld, a board member of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey said “It’s doing a real disservice to the patients of 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.”
In the interest of public health and help, it seems wise for Facebook to reconsider its policies when it comes to the unique nature of dispensaries’ pages and what they mean to their patients.