The Columbian / Associated Press

Facebook shuts down Oregon marijuana dispensary Web page

MEDFORD, Ore. — Facebook has shut down a Rogue Valley marijuana dispensary’s page as part of a nationwide crackdown on anything that promotes drugs.

Breeze Botanicals, which has Oregon locations in Ashland and Gold Hill, discovered its Facebook pages would no longer be published Monday. An Oregon Cannabis Association spokeswoman said this appears to be the first dispensary in the state to be shut out of Facebook.

“I suppose that is apropos, since we were the first legal dispensary in the area, and now we’re the first in the Rogue Valley to be shut down by Facebook,” said Brie Malarkey, owner of Breeze Botanicals.

Facebook advertising guidelines state, “Ads may not promote or facilitate the sale or consumption of illegal or recreational drugs, tobacco products, or drug or tobacco paraphernalia.”

Facebook notified Malarkey that her store pages cannot be published because they didn’t conform to Facebook’s terms and community standards. Facebook informed Malarkey, “We remove any promotion or encouragement of drug use.”

An email from Facebook stated, “We do allow marijuana advocacy content as long as it is not promoting the sale of the drug.”

Malarkey said her Facebook page promoted medicinal herbs and wasn’t exclusively about cannabis. She said she follows all state and local employment laws and files tax returns.

She said Facebook pages in other states where marijuana is legal also are being shut down.

“This is really a states rights versus federal rights issue,” Malarkey said. “Facebook is not honoring Oregon’s decision to legalize cannabis.”

Malarkey said she will attempt to rebuild her Facebook page to make it more compatible with Facebook’s requirements.

She said she plans to appeal Facebook’s decision to take her pages down.

The Associated Press reported Feb. 4 that three of New Jersey’s five medical marijuana dispensary pages had been taken down by Facebook.

Other Facebook pages belonging to local dispensaries appeared to be working Monday, but one dispensary owner declined to be interviewed for fear Facebook would shut his page down.

Other references to marijuana and marijuana products still could be found on many Facebook pages on Monday despite the company’s policies. A search of the word “marijuana” on Facebook turned up dozens of cannabis-related posts, including videos showing people smoking bongs.

Mike Welch, owner of Siskiyou Medical Supply, said he’s not too concerned about his business’ Facebook page, though he does use it.

“It doesn’t really make a difference to me one way or another,” he said.

On May 5, Welch said he will be in his 16th year of doing business locally, and he said he’s always tried to keep a low profile.

For the most part, he relies on an existing customer base and word of mouth, Welch said.

Karynn Fish, spokeswoman for the Oregon Cannabis Association, said she’s heard of dispensaries in other states whose pages were taken down by Facebook.

“It is the first one I’ve heard of in Oregon,” she said.

Fish said Facebook makes money off of lists of names of people, including from marijuana-related businesses.

“And, they’re arbitrarily targeting businesses that are operating lawfully,” she said.