Each day at Dockside, we wonder what new hurdles we’ll face as a small business and early pioneer of the cannabis industry. Set out to be a force for good, each small victory brings renewed optimism and makes us proud of our roles in changing the future, and reshaping the stigma surrounding cannabis use. However, operating a small business in this newly-created industry doesn’t come without it’s fair share of setbacks as well. Lately, we’ve been faced with a large obstacle – one entrepreneurs in other industries never need to give a second thought to. It serves as a persistent reminder of just how far society still has to come. So what’s going on? Several legal cannabis brands’ accounts are facing a massive crackdown across social media platforms.
Multiple times, Dockside has faced the feared “shadow ban” across our social media platforms. This means that, with no notice or warning, a platform will hide our account from view, or delete it completely. We have had our Facebook page shut down or “unpublished” more than a few times, and as of Autumn 2018, we have been completely banned from Instagram’s platform. The only explanation we’ve been given is that we committed a “violation of community guidelines” via “promotion or encouragement of drug use” … which is, of course, true. However, cannabis is a plant that is fully legal in Washington State, both medicinally and recreationally – so, what Dockside is ‘guilty’ of is marketing a fully legal product. It’s not at all unlike advertising for alcohol, food, or the latest gadgets.
We understand that we are on the front lines of something new, something that many still misunderstand, even if it is fully legal. But in order to generate new conversations, share legitimate information to educate others, and shift the stigma still surrounding cannabis, we need to be able to communicate with the same freedom as brands in other industries. In this day and age, millions of people depend on social media to build community around important ideas – but popular platforms are leaving legal cannabis out. We’re here to do good, as we always have been, as we always will be… and we believe it’s time to shed more light on this situation.
Legally speaking, we are doing nothing wrong. But… we’d even go as far as to say that at Dockside, we’re doing a lot of right (despite the social media mayhem), and doing it for the betterment of all. From the beginning, Dockside has tried to do things the right way to help make sure that our industry is not just legal, but an ethical, positive force on society – and we’ve got the track record to prove it.
Our medical collective, Dockside Co-op, was one of the first (and ended up being one of the only) medical cannabis access points in Washington to receive a business license, meaning we paid both city and federal taxes. Also in our early days, we were among the first to hit the ground running with testing the products we carried for potency as well as microbial contaminants – working to hit the same high standards of quality one would expect from their food. Dockside has donated thousands of dollars to local charities, earning us the accolade of “Most Charitable Cannabis Store” at DOPE Magazine’s Industry Awards twice! We also advocate tirelessly for the rights of patients, we fight for compassionate legislation, and we will continue to do what we believe is right by the plant we love.
So, does Dockside promote the use of drugs? Sure, we suppose we do. But what we think we do best is promote a responsible understanding of how to best consume a legal product safely, for whatever reason an adult chooses to do so. (PS, did you know that as of a report released in October 2018, over 66% of American adults polled by Gallup said they supported cannabis legalization? That’s a lot of people choosing pot!)
We understand that social media companies get to act as gatekeepers, controlling what information those who use their platforms can access. They’re private companies and they can do what they want. Our question is this – why block Dockside, and several others like us, when what we are doing is perfectly legal? It’s certainly no worse (many would even argue it’s better) than the advertisements for alcohol, pharmaceuticals, diet supplements, and other things that other brands are able to promote freely across social media. All we’ve found out is this – Facebook says banning cannabis content is their policy in order to “ensure Facebook remains a welcoming, respectful environment.” And while it’s certainly within their rights to deny certain types of information to be shared, it seems hypocritical to deny the promotion of a plant while still allowing posts filled with hate speech, violence, and misogyny to run rampant.
To us, it’s disappointing, and more than a touch ironic; one of the great promises of social media was “a way to democratize society with access to information that is by and for the people”. But the truth is, corporations still control that – and it matters.
We know that this isn’t the most pressing issue facing society today, but we believe it is still worth talking about. It’s an indicator of how big business controls not just the products we have access to, but our very freedom of access to information.
We truly wish that Facebook were as welcoming and respectful a place as they claim to be. However, when they ban accounts from discussing a perfectly legal, natural substance that has been used for thousands of years while simultaneously promoting the sale of amphetamine-based diet pills… it’s a little hard to believe they really want to be.
But don’t worry – even though we’re extremely limited in the ways we can market or communicate about our business, Dockside certainly isn’t going anywhere! We’ll find other ways to reach you, and make sure everyone interested can stay in the loop.
Here’s where you can find us these days:
Plus, you can sign up for the Dockside Rewards Club ($1 spent = 1 point earned) by clicking here!