Marijuana is now legal for recreational or medical use in 33 states and the District of Columbia. And most of America’s population is in support of further legalization. With the passage of marijuana legalization, the drug is becoming increasingly normalized. But does that mean it is now OK to take pictures of marijuana and post them online?
While marijuana is legal in more than half of the country, the drug is still considered illegal nationally, so publicly posting on social media is a bit tricky. As photographers and Instagram influencers struggle with how to document pot use without getting in trouble, we broke down the legality around taking Instagrammable weed pictures.
Legality Based on Location
Posting images of marijuana largely depend on where you live or where the picture was taken. While Instagram owner, Facebook, still doesn’t allow photos of the drug on its social media platform, Instagram rules work a bit differently. Essentially, you can post cannabis content if you are based somewhere where the drug is legal for recreational or medicinal use. But if you are located where marijuana is still illegal (like Alabama, for instance), you could be providing law enforcement with incriminating evidence by posting a public photo of the plant to your Instagram account.
And while marijuana use is gradually becoming more accepted, most Human Resources professionals would recommend not sharing your pro-pot attitude on social media. Even in places like Colorado, where the drug is infamously legal, there have been a few cases where employees have gotten fired for using weed even when not at work. If you find yourself in that unfortunate situation, seek out help from Colorado marijuana lawyers as you could have a decent case for wrongful termination on your hands. So while the public’s opinion on marijuana is changing, you still need to be wary of your social sphere and job prospects when posting about cannabis online.
If you truly feel the need to share your 4/20-friendly photos with friends and family, a wise suggestion would be to put those pictures in a photo storage device like ibi, where you can control who sees your photos. This way, you can privately share your favorite memories with people you trust without worrying about the repercussions.
Differences for Consumers and Businesses
Even in legalized areas, Instagram rules are different for consumers and dispensaries or businesses selling cannabis products.
Retailers can post pictures of marijuana on their Instagram accounts as long as no one is using the product in the photos. However, businesses and marijuana dispensaries can’t display contact information on their platform, so using the contact button for Instagram business pages is not allowed. However, showing the website link on your account is permitted. Here, you can keep your company’s full contact information, like address and phone number, for customers. Retailers also can’t openly promote marijuana on Instagram, meaning they can’t talk about the medicinal benefits of the plant or the product names.
For marijuana advocates and users, the rules are a bit less stringent. You can post pictures of marijuana and discuss the plant’s health benefits and properties, you can have images of items you are considering trying from local dispensaries, and you are free to discuss the political situation surrounding the drug. All this acceptable, just make sure there are no photos of you using marijuana! This will certainly get you into some trouble with Instagram and possibly lead to your account being deactivated.
So whether you are a photographer, Instagram influencer, or brand, it all depends on where you are located (and of course, using common sense) when it comes to posting about marijuana.