Although thirty U.S. states now offer some degree of legalized cannabis, Facebook has only just permitted cannabis-related pages to appear in user search results. In light of Canada’s recent federal legalization of recreational cannabis, Facebook declared in October that it will now show cannabis businesses to users in the search bar – as long as those businesses have been verified in their system. Facebook users should see a blue or gray verification badge, which ensures that cannabis-related Facebook pages have been vetted by the company itself.
Giving Cannabis Retailers a Chance
According to Bethany Gomez, director of research at the Brightfield Group, “Facebook [is] taking a more nuanced look at the cannabis industry, distinguishing between illicit drug deals and legitimate businesses.” Brightfield, a cannabis and hemp-focused market research firm, has long recognized the limitations for cannabis entrepreneurs looking to broaden their horizons online.
Erik Knutson, CEO of Keef Brands, adds, “Most traditional channels are cut off to us,” and Facebook’s decision to better promote cannabis entrepreneurs elicits a sigh of relief. Traditionally, marketing limitations created by large Internet companies, like Facebook and Google, have gone “above and beyond what is required by law,” according to Julie Weed, a regular Forbes contributor. Until now, cannabis entrepreneurs have been hard pressed to create comprehensive digital marketing campaigns, which “always begin and end with Facebook,” explains Dustin Iannotti, cofounder of Artisans on Fire, a cannabis-centered marketing agency. Now, cannabis brands will have access to consumer data and demographic purchasing information – previously “a pain point,” remarks Iannotti.
Cannabis Goes Mainstream
As the benefits of cannabis continue to reveal themselves, it’s only a matter of time before other large-scale social media platforms begin to recognize cannabis entrepreneurs as legitimate businesspeople on their sites. Today, people around the country are curious about what cannabis can do for them – and companies like Facebook play a major role in deciding what information is made available. Shauntel Ludwig, VP of Operations at DaVinci, a vaporizer manufacturer, puts it this way: “Making the companies searchable is just the first step.” Meanwhile, the cannabis community will wait to see what happens next – and perhaps they’ll reap the benefits of enhanced Facebook search results in the meantime.