Elon Musk is the owner of the American automotive and clean energy company, Tesla, worth upwards of $900 billion, as well as the now-owner of Twitter. This comes after his bid to purchase the company for a generous amount of $44 billion was accepted on 25 April 2022. Musk has been pioneering the automotive and energy industries, forcing other companies to follow suit or become obsolete. Could his ownership of Twitter mean drastic changes in cannabis regulation (and outright bans) on social media apps? Let’s find out.
The billionaire Tesla founder is no stranger to controversy and has been an ally of the cannabis industry, and is most recently under fire from the media due to his appearance on the Joe Rogen Experience where he smoked a joint with the podcast’s host. This has undoubtedly been the topic of much Elon slander online, with some speculating that Musk may have violated his own company’s drug policy.
Musk is certainly more of a cannabis ally than an advocate. He’s not the man who funds state legalization campaigns; he’s the guy with tremendous cultural clout who proclaims, loudly, that prohibition is ridiculous. He is famous (or in some cases infamous) for his controversial Twitter claims, and is among those working to free cannabis content on social media, as well as free those behind bars for cannabis-related charges. In 2020 Musk tweeted his belief that it “doesn’t make sense” for the sale of cannabis to be an essential business while many are still in prison for that very reason. It truly doesn’t.
Now that this billionaire free-speech and cannabis ally owns Twitter, what does the future of Twitter – and other Meta-owned platforms – look like?
To understand the changes we may begin to see online, we must first understand what exactly needs to change on these apps.
Those active in the cannabis industry can tell you from personal experience that social media platforms don’t mix well with marijuana. Many platforms express their unease with cannabis-related posts by shadowbanning, disabling, and even deleting accounts, as well as blocking cannabis-related posts. However, these actions are often unpredictable and sometimes unfounded.
Smaller cannabis businesses are frequently under fire from major social platforms, while large-scale companies seem to be free to promote their products and content, signaling an extremely unequal approach in the enforcement of the social cannabis ban.
These enigmatic cannabis policies come in a variety of forms. TikTok is on the extreme side of the spectrum, allowing no cannabis content at all. YouTube, which is controlled by Google, can be problematic, but it allows cannabis-related videos within reason. Then there’s Instagram and Facebook, both owned by the same parent company (Meta). These applications are less strict than TikTok but can be largely unpredictable.
Posts that appear to be completely innocent can be flagged for breaking their rules of service, but edgier posts can go unnoticed. This is understandably a point of much concern, frustration, and confusion for cannabis businesses everywhere who utilize social media as a large marketing and sales channel. So, what does Musk’s ownership of Twitter mean for cannabis on social media?
Twitter is known for being one of the more “liberal” platforms when it comes to cannabis policy. There are benefits and drawbacks to this. On the plus side, Twitter is the finest cultural and temperamental match for Musk. His public demeanor resembles that of Twitter’s creator, the libertarian Jack Dorsey. Musk’s free-speech centered Tweet shortly after his bid succeeded showcases this fact.
However, on the downside, there is the possibility that the Tesla founder could turn Twitter into a free-for-all of conspiracy theories, hate speech, and political propaganda. So while his ownership could mean a home ground for cannabis businesses and cannabis-related posts, would it be the safe haven it needs to be? Would cannabis businesses – or anyone – even want to be on the app?
While there is speculation about the pros and cons of the new ownership of Twitter, it’s clear that Elon Musk has long been a cannabis-ally. We have seen in the past that Musk’s forward-thinking in the automotive industry with his electric vehicles made it so that companies such as GM and Ford had to follow Tesla’s lead and create their own electric vehicles or possibly face the reality of becoming obsolete.
It is possible that the changes Musk makes to Twitter could force the other social media platforms to reconsider their stance on cannabis policies. By opening Twitter’s arms to cannabis companies and gaining ground on Instagram, he just may be the cannabis ally that brings about real change online for the cannabis industry.
This is essential, as Twitter’s character limit and other feature limitations make platforms such as Instagram and YouTube the ideal choices for cannabis businesses, regardless of their arbitrary cannabis policies.
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