Facebook shuts down hemp pages just days after Trump signs Farm Bill

Katie Moyer of Kentucky Hemp Works, left, with Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum in a greenhouse full of hemp plants during the 2017 solar eclipse.
Katie Moyer of Kentucky Hemp Works, left, with Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum in a greenhouse full of hemp plants during the 2017 solar eclipse.

Hemp is booming in Kentucky and elsewhere but still struggling on social media.

On Dec. 20, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill to legalize hemp, but Facebook apparently didn’t get the memo.

Overnight on Dec. 24 Facebook took down the Kentucky Hemp Works page for promoting the sale of “prescription pharmaceuticals.”

Owner Katie Moyer said that she immediately appealed the action but Facebook sent her a response saying that it had reviewed the page and “confirmed that it still violates the Facebook Page Polices.”

Lexington attorney Jonathan Miller, who is general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, said this has happened over the last six years to several hemp-related businesses on Facebook. And there probably isn’t anything that can be done.

“Where we have seen a consistent issue is on the advertising side, where companies have tried to sell products and been rejected. I’m told marijuana companies have had fewer problems,” Miller said. “We’ve been hoping the passage of the Farm Bill would change that, because now it takes away the underlying argument that it violates the Controlled Substances Act.”

Often, Miller said, Instagram and Twitter will follow Facebook’s lead and cut off companies, too, often with little explanation other than an implication that “they are doing something illegal.”

No company is supposed to tout specific medical or veterinary benefits from hemp products, which are supplements and not regulated by the FDA.

Moyer, who processes hemp on a farm in Christian County and sells cannabidiol drops, hemp root salve, hemp protein powder, hemp seed oil and more, said she’s always very careful not to make medical claims.

“It’s not going to slow us down too much, still selling wholesalers and direct to customers and still producing product,” Moyer said. “But it stings pretty bad to know years of work is just gone with the press of a button.”

At least two other hemp sites, Toledo Hemp Center and Carolina Hemp Company, also apparently were taken off of Facebook.

Moyer said she’s disappointed to lose contact with the business’s 5,600 followers.

“We really had a very close relationship with our followers. We’re very personal with them,” she said. For instance, when the farmer who grows the hemp rescued some nearly frozen kittens, Moyer posted photos on the page.

Now that they are finally ready to find homes for them, she’s had to resort to stealthier measures.

On Wednesday she set up a new Facebook page: Not Kentucky Hemp Works.

“What’s up 0 followers!!!! Welcome to our page, Not Kentucky Hemp Works. We are actually Not Kentucky Hemp Works. We’ve never heard of Kentucky Hemp Works so don’t act like we are. Never heard of em,” she posted.

Some of her followers seem to have caught on but will Facebook?

“I put sunglasses on our logo, so they can’t tell it’s us,” Moyer said. She also put sunglasses on the kittens, just for good measure.