YouTube Cracks Down On Cannabis Channels

By Beth Leipholtz 04/27/18

Some channel creators believe the crackdown is due to the fact that YouTube no longer makes ad revenue from cannabis content.

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a person holding a phone with the youtube app on the screen

For some YouTube channel creators, thousands of followers, hundreds of videos and years of work are being erased with little warning. 

According to Leafly, YouTube has been suspending or disabling numerous accounts associated with cannabis over the past month.

Users whose accounts have been affected have often been blindsided, Leafly notes. Such users are confused, as cannabis itself is becoming more accepted as it is legalized in more states. 

YouTube has taken similar actions with channels pertaining to guns.

A statement from YouTube featured in New York Magazine read, “While we’ve long prohibited the sale of firearms, we recently notified creators of updates we will be making around content promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms and their accessories.”

However, Leafly states, channels about marijuana received little to no information about such updates. 

Dylan Osborn, the creator of Greenbox Grown, a channel about growing medical marijuana, tells Leafly his channel with 13,000 followers has gotten flagged numerous times. But he says the most recent time was different, as other well-known accounts were also flagged and taken down. He now self-hosts his videos and charges a monthly user fee. 

“There are tons of other videos violating content guidelines that aren’t cannabis related,” he told Leafly. “You can watch videos about how to make bombs out of household items on YouTube all day.”

Another popular channel—That High Couple—created by video bloggers Clark and Alice has also been deleted with little explanation. 

“YouTube’s reason for suspending our channel was that we ‘broke community guidelines,’” the couple told Leafly in an email. “There was no specific reason, only a generic list that it could be because we were promoting violence, illegal drug use, creating spam content, etc.”

One possible reason, they tell Leafly, is that YouTube is unable to make money from cannabis content. 

“YouTube can’t make ad revenue from cannabis content,” they wrote to Leafly. “Last year, YouTube went through what most are calling ‘The Adpocalypse,’ where many top advertisers were seeing their ads play before content that was inappropriate and damaging to their brand. Once the money started leaving, YouTube updated their algorithm to prevent ‘unsuitable’ content from getting ads delivered against their content and the whole system has been crumbling ever since.”

Until last month when it was shut down, Kord Tagley ran a YouTube channel called GreenGenes Garden, and says he did everything in his power to comply with California state rules about advertising.

According to Leafly, this includes age-appropriate warnings before his videos.

He says YouTube didn’t even give him the normal three strikes warning before deleting his account, and he has not been able to appeal the most recent one that shut his account down. 

“YouTube only gives you 500 characters, so that’s spaces included, to appeal any of their strikes,” Tagley told Leafly. “It appears that bots are reviewing the appeals, because they’re getting bounced back in a matter of minutes.”

Leafly’s efforts to reach YouTube elicited no response.

“It’s unfortunate they are not working with us on this issue,” Osborn told Leafly. “They are just shutting the door and that’s it.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

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