Still under fire for taking money from Russia to influence the 2016 United States Election, Facebook is discriminating against “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed”, a feature documentary film attempting to advertise and promote via Facebook ads, claiming the film “promotes illegal activity.”
[Denver, CO], October 31, 2018 – “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed” is a documentary about women leading the cannabis industry, and so much more. The film asks big questions about corporate responsibility and ending the War on Drugs, the Prison-Industrial Complex and the destructive domination of Big Pharma. It has garnered “Best Documentary” and “Visionary” awards on the festival circuit and been featured in Variety, The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Forbes, NBC, and ABC. The documentary is now available for theatrical and educational screenings, yet it’s being blocked on Facebook.
Facebook’s Community Guidelines state they:
“prohibit the use of Facebook to facilitate or organize criminal activity that causes physical harm to people, businesses or animals, or financial damage to people or businesses. We work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety. We also prohibit you from celebrating any crimes you’ve committed. We do, however, allow people to debate or advocate for the legality of criminal activities, as well as address them in a humorous or satirical way.” (emphasis added)
This is where “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed” comes in. The documentary film’s goal is to educate film audiences about cannabis legalization and debate the federal drug policy. The film isn’t selling a federally illegal substance or promoting a criminal activity that could cause harm; it’s a first-hand account of the Director’s journey to meet female entrepreneurs leading the fastest growing industry in North America.
Filmmaker Windy Borman explains, “Facebook is happy to accept our ad dollars when we tag a celebrity with a large Facebook following, even when we use a quote about their cannabis use. What did they find offensive on October 17, 2018, the day Canada legalized cannabis sales across the country? We congratulated Canada on their cannabis liberation and included a Canadian flag that included our registered trademark.”
“Cannabis sales were legal in Canada. We used our federally registered trademark from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This was one of the largest media stories of the day, and we were censored from participating in it despite Facebook’s policy stating ‘advocacy or awareness ads are allowed.’”
“The censorship ‘Mary Janes’ experiences are the same discriminatory enforcement thousands of advocates, educators, and journalists face every day,” says Lauren Gibbs, Founder and President of Rise Above Social Strategies, which works with non-profits and cannabis clients. “Despite full compliance with Facebook’s stated guidelines, multiple non-profit advocacy organizations and at least one government regulatory agency have been ‘shadow blocked’ so that they cannot appear in search results. A public policy forum in Canada was prevented from promoting their event. Individual advocates regularly deal with account shutdowns, and all live in fear of losing their cultivated communities. There are countless instances of Facebook censoring those that are entirely in compliance with the stated community guidelines. There is no excuse for such biased enforcement of their own rules.”
ShabnamMalek and Amanda Conley of Brand & Branch LLP, an Oakland-based cannabis-focused law firm said, “We are gravely concerned about Facebook’s censorship of content which seeks to peacefully educate and advocate for the reform of cannabis laws, and shed light on states’ cannabis legalization efforts. Facebook’s censorship of the promotion of ‘Mary Janes: The Women of Weed’ on the grounds the film promotes ‘illegal activity’ is irrational, arbitrary, and betrays its own terms of service. Facebook’s terms specifically permit its users to ‘debate or advocate for the legality of criminal activities.’ Educational and advocacy content as portrayed within the film complies with Facebook’s terms. We expect Facebook to abide by its own terms — particularly where, as here, it seeks to enforce those very terms against its users.”
This isn’t the first time Facebook has censored the film “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed.” In October 2017, Facebook did not allow the film to promote its World Premiere at film festivals in California and New York. Only after the press contacted Facebook’s Media Office did they allow the ad—weeks after the World Premiere, which cost the film distribution offers.
In 2016, Facebook blocked the film from promoting its crowdfunding campaign. After multiple appeals throughout the three-week campaign, Facebook finally approved an advertising boost of the film’s teaser video, the day after the campaign ended, costing the film untold investments and donations from supporters.
“If I was doing a film about the opioid crisis, tobacco or alcohol, I have no doubt that our ads would get approved,” said Borman, “but because our film is about women in cannabis, we are told it ‘doesn’t comply’ even though we are abiding by their publicly stated terms. It is an insult to our journalistic integrity and democracy at a time when the media is already under fire.”
“Facebook’s haphazard implementation of their community guidelines is constantly handicapping the legalization movement. It is high time for Zuckerberg and company to stop enforcing prohibition,” said Gibbs.
“The people of North America have spoken. They have questions, and they want answers about cannabis. I made this documentary film to establish this conversation,” says Borman. “The bigger issue is ‘Mary Janes’ is ultimately a film about corporate responsibility. It focuses on three core values: gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability. It just so happens that the industry that leads in all three of these areas is cannabis.”
You can sign up to host a screening of “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed” on film’s website: http://MaryJanesFilm.com
Twitter and Instagram: @MaryJanesFilm
Official Trailer: YouTube
About MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED:
Women are changing the face of today’s fastest growing industry – cannabis. Join filmmaker Windy Borman as she explores the movement to end marijuana prohibition, her relationship to the plant, and the stereotypes surrounding it. Through a series of empowering and educational interviews with a broad diversity of women leading the industry today, Windy’s assumptions are transformed as she discovers cannabis liberation intersects with the most urgent social justice issues of our time. She learns how this green revolution has significant effects on environmental sustainability, ending the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial Complex, and the destructive domination of Big Pharma.
About Producer / Writer / Director Windy Borman
Windy Borman, MST, is a multi-award-winning film Director and Producer, as well as the founder of DVA Productions. Her recent projects include directing and producing the 10-time award-winning film, “The Eyes of Thailand” (narrated by Ashley Judd), and producing “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia”, which premiered at Sundance and on HBO. Other credits include producing performances for Dr. Maya Angelou and Margaret Cho, directing “The Vagina Monologues”, and writing for Kindland, Takepart.com and Indiewire: Women and Hollywood. Borman is the Founding Board Chair of Women in Film and Media Colorado.