Marijuana Ads Banned on Facebook and Google

Internet giants won't allow them even in states where pot is legal

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Facebook and Google will not let weed sellers advertise on their websites, even if prospective pot patrons are surfing the web in places like Colorado or Washington where marijuana is legal.

GigaOM reported Tuesday that spokespeople for both companies confirmed they were sticking with existing advertising policies, which forbid promotion of drugs, including marijuana.

Geo-targeting technologies allow internet companies to serve ads to users based on their location, but Facebook and Google expressed reservations about extending the service to weed vendors.

The risk of changing the current rules “to allow ads promoting the drug in certain states or countries where it is legal is too high (no pun intended) for us to consider at this time,” Facebook spokesman Tim Rathschmidt told GigaOM by email. Google similarly affirmed its existing policy, which prohibits advertisements for “substances that can alter the function of the brain to induce unnatural euphoria, or alter reality.”

Taylor West, a spokesperson for trade association The Cannibis Industry, expressed frustration about the companies’ refusal to allow the ads. “It’s pretty ridiculous and short-sighted – not to mention hypocritical – for them to leave those legitimate ad dollars on the table,” he said.

Both Google and Facebook said they continually review their ad policies and that rules on marijuana could change in the future. For now however, weed sellers will have to look elsewhere to boost their products.