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Google likes pot more than Facebook

While Facebook rejects pro-marijuana ads placed by organizations such as the Libertarian Party and Just Say Now, Google has reportedly accepted them with a grin.

It is hard--living in Northern California--to bump into someone under the age of 82 who doesn't smoke pot.

It seems as if it is, in all but lawyer's paperwork, legal.

It seems, though, that making advertisements to encourage the completion of that paperwork is causing something of a smoky atmosphere to develop between lobbying groups and Facebook.

According to the Huffington Post, Facebook first approved ads created by lobbying organization Just Say Now and the Libertarian Party, then removed them.

In the case of Just Say Now, Facebook reportedly said it didn't allow pictures of drugs in ads. The Libertarian Party, on the other hand, says it was told by Facebook: "We do not allow ads for marijuana or political ads for the promotion of marijuana."

The offending ad. The Libertarian Party

This difficult situation was then made more perplexing when the Huffington Post reported that Google had decided to accept such ads on its pages.

Naturally, the lobbying organizations claimed that Facebook was censoring their ads. Indeed, Huffington quoted Bruce Fein, former associate attorney general for President Reagan and a Just Say Now coalition member, who heartily disparaged the world's greatest social-networking site.

"Facebook's concocted prissiness over political advocacy is more to be disparaged than imitated. Freedom of expression is made of sterner stuff. Google deserves applause for exposing Facebook to shame."

I contacted the alleged prissy concocters at Facebook and had the smoke cleared.

Facebook's Annie Ta told me: "We don't allow any images of drugs, drug paraphernalia, or tobacco in ad images on Facebook. Sometimes our automated and manual processes miss these, but our policy has always been the same. Just Say Now, the Libertarian Party, and other organizations with similar objectives can continue to advertise on Facebook using different images."

I know that those who lobby forcefully for what seems like quite a reasonable suggestion (especially for us here in California, as we would certainly delight in the tax revenue) can be emotional.

But might I suggest that Facebook has actually done them a favor? As someone who has occasionally dabbled in advertising, sometimes using an image of the product is neither the most imaginative nor the most effective means of selling. Especially for a product that is only truly effective when it affects your imagination.

Images of marijuana leaves abound in the media. Only the other night, I saw several San Francisco Giants fans wearing T-shirts that said "Let Tim Smoke." This is a reference to Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum's pot arrest last year. Even this little fan lobbying organization had an image of a marijuana leaf.

Surely fine organizations like the Libertarian Party and Just Say Now could come up with a more original, amusing image. Something that Facebook and even the state of California might appreciate. A pot of gold, for example.