Advertiser’s Inconsistent (and maybe illegal) Enforcement and Restrictions on Hemp Products
I’m hot today. I was pretty riled up when I wrote that rant piece about the FDA’s rules on medical claims being a double edged sword and cooled off. Well, it didn’t take long for another ‘inconsistency’ to wake me up this Monday morning.
This one is about advertisers’ paid ad platforms and how they selectively enforce the ‘Acceptable Use Policies (AUP)’ about restricted products and arbitrarily redefine ‘controlled substances’ (by the way, that’s the DEA’s right, not Facebook’s).
I’m not going to mention specifically which company this is about because I hope to be able to use their services and don’t want to piss them off. However, it doesn’t matter which one it is in this instance because they are all guilty of it and they have all screwed us before.
I’m talking about the companies that sell paid ads. This includes Facebook, IG, TikTok, Taboola, Outbrain, Google, and many more. These paid ads come in several different variations. Here are a few:
- Straight up ad – These are direct and basically say, “buy this product because it will solve a problem you have.”
- Advertorial – I may have the word wrong, but these are the one’s that look like a real news article, but it’s an advertisement.
I want to be clear that I’m not mad at annoying ads. I’m mad that the companies who sell them. They won’t sell them to me, but sell them to my competitors when we’re both selling the same product.
I’m specifically mad at an ‘advertorial’ that I get served every day. I attached a screenshot to show yall. It always has a borderline illegal headline like, “Doctors discover CBD gummies cure arthritis.” They are serving me these on major websites like cnn.com, espn.com, foxnews.com, not little stoner blogs.
When I first saw this, I thought, “Holy cow! I have to get with these guys. They not only do they allow you to sell Hemp products, but also allow illegal medical claims.” I clicked the little box at the top that tells you which ad network served the ad. I found the company. They are very big and well known. I forwarded the info to the marketing team and we opened an account and got assigned a sales rep. This company was clear that we couldn’t sell any products with more than .3% THC and it didn’t matter if it was 8,9,10, etc.
What we did to accommodate these rules was buy a new domain and only put products that have less than .3% THC – Better Than Nine’s Super Full Spectrum Daily Gummies. We built the landing page and tailored the language around what our sales rep told us was acceptable. It took around a month to get everything set up properly (supposedly properly). We set the first round of ads to run today.
I woke up and checked my emails and had received an email from the advertisers saying our add was pulled down because it violated their AUP. The violation was selling a ‘controlled substance.’
[Enter the expletive laden rant]
Seriously. Let’s go down the list of things that fueled my rage:
- NOTHING THAT WE SELL ARE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES. I know these d heads have the news. The Farm Bill passed in 2018 and legalized everything that comes out of hemp that contains less than .3% Delta 9 THC. My argument against selling ‘controlled substances’ should both begin and end here.
- We had a representative from the company tell us everything complied with their rules.
- 10 minutes after I read this email, I got served an ad selling CBD gummies FROM THE SAME COMPANY THAT TOLD ME IT’S A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE.
I should probably alert them that these ads that I see every day promoting controlled substances have ‘slipped through the cracks’ of their system because I’m sure they don’t want the consequences of selling a controlled substance. Trafficking at the scale they do would instantly bring in RICO “Kingpin” charges, freeze all their billions of assets, and force them to suspend operations.
This won’t happen because this shit isn’t a ‘controlled substance.’ It’s Federally legal.
This goes back to my ‘who’s the asshole’ conundrum from my previous post. This is ridiculous.
There are only 3 possible reasons that they considered our product as a controlled substance:
- Their system automatically flags anything that may be something, which forces the advertisers to appeal, which triggers a person to review the ad before allowing it to run. This safeguard would make sense because the don’t want to accidentally promote a legit ‘controlled substance’ because it would trigger the above legal actions. Once a person reviews it and sees it’s okay, they say, “Sorry about the delay, but we have to be careful.” and then run the ad. I’m hoping this is what happened.
- There’s a ‘pay to play’ model within the ‘pay to play’ model. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have additional fees for ‘high risk’ products, just like credit card processors do for CBD. I don’t understand how CBD is more high risk to process than anything else. The risk isn’t the product, it’s the people running the business. I ran over 2000 credit card transactions and have had 1 chargeback. Anyone who orders from us knows that we run a good business. But it won’t surprise me if the unnamed ad network comes back and says, “Oh yeah. So you guys are considered ‘high risk’ so you have to join our high risk group and that requires an additional fee of $X.”
- Their system ‘missed’ the CBD gummy ads I see and they accidentally got through. This is the least likely scenario because I’ve been seeing these CBD advertorials for nearly a year. If their system has been that porous, then the whole company needs to be investigated for lack of institutional control or something. Imagine the legal liability that they could face if their system was allowing people to sell ‘controlled substances’ for over a year.
This whole thing is so frustrating because the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and everything about it that has less than .3% Delta 9 THC.
However, Google, FB, IG, Taboola, Twitter, Outbrain, TikTok, Snapchat, paypal, and more continue to restrict advertising on these products. Now, if you go to their pages about restricted products, they say the allow them, but once you start running ads, they always find a reason to ban you and say you are selling restricted products.
I wouldn’t be mad if this were a level playing field, but it isn’t. Go to any of these places and you will see ads for CBD and Hemp THC all over. I know how these companies are doing, too. They are based overseas and they have armies of hackers in India, Pakistan, and other Asian countries that do stuff to manipulate the algorithms. For instance, when you see an ad on Facebook for Delta 8 Gummies, the Facebook robot sees an ad for a t-shirt.
This goes back to selective enforcement and lack of institutional control. The giant companies allow hostile foreign countries run ads with fake info that are designed to sow vitriol, hate, and division in our country, but they don’t let me advertise a GD CBD gummy? WTF is going on?
I know congress calls the CEOs of these companies to testify all the time, but nothing happens. Congress is 500+ impotent narcissists that would auto fellate if they didn’t break a hip trying.
I thought writing this calm me down, but it has actually mad me madder because it’s released a lot of pent up anger on this topic. I’m going to go take pictures of our new pain creams to put on the website to take my mind of this. These pain cream are really good by the way. You probably won’t see an ad for them because they are ‘controlled substances’, but I’m sure you see an ad calling for a civil war or fast food – 2 things that are empirically more dangerous than hemp gummies. SMH.
Have a good day!
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