Facebook says no to "Just Say Now" marijuana legalization campaign ads

[ Update: Since this post was originally published, Facebook has responded to Boing Boing with further clarification on their existing ad policies. A Facebook rep tells us the ad in dispute crossed the line because it contained an image of a pot leaf, which current policy prohibits. ]

The people behind the "Just Say Now" marijuana legalization campaign (oft-Boinged Salon contributor Glenn Greenwald is one of many political thinkers on their board) want Facebook to back off its decision to pull their ads from the social networking service.

Advisory board member Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake tells Boing Boing,

In a nutshell, they allowed us to serve our ads for 10 days (38 million impressions) then suddenly reversed their approval and told us we could no longer show the image of a marijuana leaf. They said they decided to reclassify it as similar to tobacco, but we said we weren't trying to encourage people to smoke marijuana, we were supporting a change in US drug policy.

They report that Facebook's communications rep Adam Noyes said, when asked for Facebook's decision in writing:

It would be fine to note that you were informed by Facebook that the image in question was no long acceptable for use in Facebook ads. The image of a pot leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies. Let me know if you need anything further.

But the group points out that Facebook's ad policy doesn't ban "smoking products," just "tobacco products." Also, Facebook does permit alcohol ads, even ads featuring images of alcohol products and packaging, though alcohol ads that make alcohol consumption "fashionable," "promote intoxication" or that "encourage excessive consumption" are banned. Just Say Now calls Facebook's action censorship.

They're running the ads on political blogs both right and left starting today, and Google has told the campaign they'll accept the ad. As with every pressing social issue of our time, yes, there is a Facebook group for this controversy.

Why bother with all of this? Here's their mission statement:

Our nation's prohibition about marijuana has cost the country billions, resulted in a massive increase in incarceration rates, funded criminal syndicates, yet failed to stop people from using marijuana. It is a failed costly and misguided policy that must end now. We are a group of all individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and political leans that share the simple conviction that the marijuana prohibition must end. That is why we are promoting the legalization and sensible regulation of marijuana through grassroots organizing and direct democratic action.

More about the Facebook ad controversy here at Firedoglake. A related item is now up at Huffington Post.