Selling marijuana for medical purposes is legal in 23 states, but Facebook apparently has a less permissive attitude towards the drug. The social network has shut down the business pages of a marijuana dispensaries in a number of states including New Jersey, Maine, and Washington, reports NJ.com, citing its community standards.
A spokesperson for Facebook told Engadget: "These pages have been removed for violating our community standards, which outline what is and is not allowed on Facebook. Here is a link to our standards." However, the social network's rules only prohibit the sale (or purchase) of drugs by "unauthorized dealers" — a category to which licensed marijuana dispensaries would seemingly not belong.
States may legalize medical marijuana, but the federal situation is different
It's possible though, that Facebook is following federal rather than state law, where the legality of medical marijuana can be a bit of a gray area. In 2014, Congress passed legislation banning federal agents from raiding dispensaries — a move that was widely seen as "ending the ban" on medical marijuana. However, this was a misinterpretation of the law, which essentially allowed to states to continue to enforce whatever rules they already had in place. Raids continue, although at a slower pace, while the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule I substance with "no currently accepted medical use." That's difficult to ignore.
Facebook's decision to go with federal law, though, will effect users who rely on the substance for pain relief. "It seems high-handed to simply shut down important resources for sick patients without even saying why or giving organizations a way to ask for reconsideration," Peter Rosenfeld, one of New Jersey's 5,668 registered medical marijuana users told NJ.com. "What better use of a social media than having sites where parents of sick children can ask questions about medication and treatments?"