Authorities in New York wrote a letter to TikTok after the social media platform was allegedly rejected by the app allowing weed-focused ads to aid an ongoing education campaign on legalized marijuana.
The New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) sent the letter Monday, written by executive director Chris Alexander, urging the social media giant to reconsider its “blanket ban” on drug-featuring ads on the app went. The board argued in the letter that advertisements are an essential part of a public health campaign and TikTok is one way they can directly speak to the youth about the risks.
When the state legalized marijuana for individuals over the age of 21 in March 2021, the state established OCM and required education campaigns on the legalization and impact of cannabis use on public health and safety. According to Rolling stoneNew York has seen an influx of public health ads around the city, including warnings of the risks of smoking while pregnant and reminders to be careful where you smoke.
OCM is running TV ads and social media campaigns, but no luck when trying to run ads on one of the largest social media platforms.
Why Tiktok Won’t Run Legitimate Weed Ads
TikTok’s advertising policy prohibits the promotion, sale, solicitation or access facilitation of illegal drugs, controlled drugs, genetic drugs, drugs for the purpose of entertainment, homeopathy, enhancement, performance, including weight loss.
OCM published the exact reasoning it believes TikTok will not run in its advertising paper, writing: “When we tried to advertise on TikTok, we were informed that you do not carry cannabis ads of any kind. Including advertisements for government accounts promoting health. Education. We believe this is linked to the section of your Industry Entry Advertising Policy that prohibits the ‘illustration or characteristic of drug-related actions, symbols or images’ But we know that our colleagues at the New York State Department of Health run paid ads on TikTok as part of their public health campaigns.”
Earlier in the year, TikTok also took a heavy toll on content on the app, with content congratulating users on their “For You” page (FYP). On February 8, the company issued a statement from its Trust and Security chief, Cormac Keenan, as it unveiled an update to the Community Guidelines.
These include “strengthening our Dangerous Acts and Challenges policy, broadening our approach to eating disorders, adding clarity to the types of hateful ideologies prohibited on our Platform, and protecting the safety, integrity, availability and credibility of our Platform.
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” Our policy includes expanding.”
As an app primarily for young people, and with a large number of children using the app, the social media platform faced enormous pressure to protect the app and its content.
What does the New York State Office of Cannabis Management want?
Alexander told TikTok directly that “please reconsider your current blanket ban on ads that use the word ‘cannabis’ on TikTok.”
The letter cited a predominantly young audience of TikTok, with a report saying that 75 percent of users are between the ages of 18 and 34. For OCM, 18-21 is a “critical” age group when it comes to education on marijuana legalization. Brains are still developing and our message provides insight into the risks they are exposed to at such a young age.”
“Our public health education campaign also delivers the message that driving under the influence of cannabis is both unsafe and illegal, another important message for this age group where decision-making often carries risk,” Alexander wrote.
executive director said Rolling stone that they hope that “additional pressure can bring them to waive their no-cannabis advertising policy for this cannabis education program. They’re trying to do this one-size-fits-all approach. It works here.” does not, and it is disappointing for our mission.”
newsweek Reached out to TikTok and the New York State Office of Cannabis Management for comment.
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