Threads Warns Users About Cannabis

Stephen Andrews
26 Jul 2023

New social media app Threads broke records by becoming the world’s fastest growing app ever. In less than a week, the Twitter rival gained over 100 million users worldwide, surpassing the success of ChatGPT. However, Threads has failed to take a progressive stance on Cannabis.

For a long time, tech and social media giants have largely muted Cannabis. Various platforms have censored cannabis-related content and have not permitted ads and sponsorships. There have also been many cases where Facebook and Instagram have cold-bloodedly deactivated successful cannabis industry brand pages with massive followings for purported violating of community guidelines. 

Recently there have been some changes for good in the online sphere, however. For example, as of 2023, Google no longer bans the advertising of certain hemp and CBD products in select parts of the US. Twitter also relaxed its rules on cannabis, allowing “certified” and legal cannabis operators to use ads in the U.S. and Canada for certain regulated cannabis products. Twitter explains their new drugs and drug paraphernalia content policy here

And then came Threads. Where, if you search the term “cannabis,” you would be redirected to “get help” with treatment referrals and recovery support. Nobody really asked for that, but thanks Threads! It's like seeing the ghost of the past all over again. 

Cannabis Threats on Threads

The new Meta-owned social app was launched at the beginning of July and millions of people flocked to register. If you happen to browse the app for entries like “marijuana” and “cannabis” or psychedelics like “psilocybin,” the app will ask if you need help with finding treatment resources from a federal agency. Twitter stuck to a similar policy in the past, redirecting to the same agency, but fortunately that practice was abandoned. 

Another problem is that Threads gives the same warning for marijuana as if you searched for other far more dangerous drugs like fentanyl. The stern warning reads as follows: “This May Be Associated with the Sale of Drugs. The sale, purchase, or trade of illicit drugs can cause harm to yourself and others and is illegal in most countries. If you or someone you know struggle with substance abuse, you can get help through confidential treatment referrals, prevention, and recovery support.” 

Subsequently, users are presented with a “get help” option that redirects them to the government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). No distinction between hemp and marijuana is made along the way.

More drug terms that generate warnings include MDMA, DMT, Vicodin, Percocet, Adderall, Xanax, meth, heroin and peyote. Suppose you search terms like “alcohol,” “liquor” or “cigarettes” which are in great deal associated with addiction, and chronic consumption can lead to serious health problems. In that case, Threads produces no warning. And that should illustrate the stigmatizing double standards of this new app. 

Threads is still a very young app. While it’s a shame that its creators embraced a stigmatizing approach for Cannabis in it, especially now that over half of Americans have legal access, hopefully they improve the app in the future. 

Also read this on Soft Secrets:

Cannabis and Social Media: What Are the Possibilities?

Marijuana ‘Less Addictive’ Than Technology, Says Research

How is Cannabis Content Treated on TikTok?

Stephen Andrews