For one, there’s the reality that your entire social media account could get shut down for showcasing pot.
That may vary from one platform to the next, but the possibility — and fear of it — remains. Even legitimate, legal businesses have had their pages torn down. In September, a review site in Canada called Lift Cannabis lost its entire Instagram account and 11,000 followers for showing photos of legal marijuana from licensed producers.
In Instagram’s community guidelines, it says even legal drug use isn’t allowed. Facebook, for its part, holds community standards that strictly prohibit any content promoting the sale of cannabis (even if it’s happening where the drug is legal). But even users showing marijuana that they’re not selling have been shut down.
And Facebook’s advertising opportunities for the cannabis industry, as you can probably guess, are no more accommodating. “Avoid using images of smoking-related accessories (like bongs and rolling papers),” the Facebook advertising policy reads. “Avoid using images of either recreational or medical marijuana.”
It makes for an online environment where the cannabis industry has trouble even existing.
“Facebook and Instagram were critical for us from a marketing perspective and for keeping in touch with our customers,” Joe Hodas, director of marketing at Colorado-based cannabis products seller Dixie Elixirs, told Fortune. “It really cuts off an arm, so to speak.”
As a result, these businesses find Toke With a much more welcoming, secure place where weed is readily accepted. And of course, so do people like Zeus, or StonedGamer.
In the hills of Los Angeles, at his Highland Park home, Zeus has created a little oasis in honor of his two favorite things. His bedroom is filled with High Times posters, a colorful collection of glassware from pipes to dab rigs, Simpsons memorabilia, and weed-loving swag like trucker hats that say “Play High, Stay High.” An arcade game and flat-screen TV are the few sources of light in the dimly-lit stoner cave.
He chats away after blazing through a sizable blunt. It’s left him baked and firmly planted on the couch, a game of Minecraft blaring on the big-screen TV before him. His eyes are laser-focused on the images of buildings and grass hills passing on the screen, a scene he narrates in great detail. “I built all of this,” he says of his digital creation with pride.
Beyond just getting high and playing video games, Zeus also earns a living hosting tournaments around California for people to do just that. These contests invite people to come get high and then wander into a maze of arcade and video game-playing. Meanwhile, Zeus also writes for Snoop Dogg’s Merry Jane and High Times.
Promoting his endeavors simply isn’t possible on arguably the biggest social platform for gamers: Twitch. Tales of other gamers getting their Twitch accounts deleted for an on-camera bong hit has been enough to keep Zeus off the platform — a precaution that makes sense considering Twitch’s no-nonsense stance.
“We discourage broadcasting the use of cannabis/marijuana on our services,” Chase, PR director of Twitch, wrote in an email to Mashable. “If doing so violates your local laws, causes you to inflict harm upon yourself, or is a focus of your broadcasts, this type of activity is entirely prohibited.”