Citing “suspicious or fraudulent activity,” Maine’s Center for Disease Control has shut down the Facebook page for a program that aims to raise awareness about potential dangers of marijuana use. As it turns out, the “suspicious” activity is a satire page set up by pro-pot critics of the state effort.
The state launched the online and social media awareness campaign earlier this fall, with a budget a spokeswoman said was over $300,000. The “Good to Know Maine” website and Facebook page presents tips about potential harms from marijuana use, particularly for those under the legal age for consumption.
It’s similar to other government efforts to raise awareness about alcohol or tobacco abuse, but hundreds of scoffing comments on the Facebook page took it to task as “prohibition propaganda” at a time when marijuana is legal for medical and adult nonmedical uses in the state.
Early this month, a satirical Facebook page popped up called “Good-to-NO Maine,” including a variety of tongue in cheek posts. A day later, the state took down the original informational “Good to Know Maine” Facebook page.
“With the real substance abuse issues that we have, we have to ask ourselves if this is the best use of resources,” says marijuana advocate and Belfast dispensary owner Paul McCarrier, who says he was not involved in the satire site.
McCarrier says the state’s response demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the original campaign.
“We’re spending money on a marketing campaign that not only shames legitimate users of this medicinal therapy, but also seems to be ineffective to the point where it draws satire,” he says.
CDC spokeswoman Emily Spencer says the state took down its page out of concerns about consumer confusion, misinformation and message dilution. It has asked Facebook to review the satire page for compliance with its standards.
The state-sponsored website, goodtoknowmaine.com, meanwhile, is still active.