Colorado’s Proposed Social Media Drug Ad Ban Sparks Free Speech Debate

A controversial bill advancing in Colorado aims to prohibit the promotion or advertising of cannabis and other regulated substances on social media platforms. However, the proposed legislation is facing intense scrutiny over potential First Amendment violations and data privacy concerns.

Senate Bill 24-158 would require social media companies to ban users for positively discussing, promoting, or advertising cannabis, psychedelics like psilocybin, hemp-derived products exceeding specific THC limits, and even some over-the-counter medications. The initial version drew criticism for its broad scope, leading to amendments allowing the promotion of state-legal cannabis to users over 21.


While designed to prevent youth exposure to drug marketing, critics argue the bill goes too far. The R Street Institute’s Shoshana Weissmann highlighted “potentially disastrous quirks,” including requiring companies to report violations to law enforcement and prohibiting them from notifying users of investigations – measures she argues violate constitutional principles.

The age verification process itself raises data privacy red flags. To confirm users are of legal age, companies must obtain and retain sensitive personal information, creating appealing targets for hackers according to Weissmann. The bill also mandates storing user data and metadata for a year, further increasing risks.

Colorado’s burgeoning psychedelic industry could also face setbacks, as the legislation’s vague language potentially restricts discussion around newly legalized therapeutic psilocybin use. Even sharing positive experiences with legal products like CBD oils or cough syrups may constitute violations.

As the bill advances to the Appropriations Committee, lawmakers still grapple with clarifying ambiguities and addressing constitutional challenges. Companies would face July 2025 deadlines for policy updates and annual reporting to the attorney general if passed.

While protecting youth remains a priority, the proposed restrictions have reignited debates around free speech, privacy rights and the role of social media in the era of drug policy reform. Finding the right balance will require careful consideration from Colorado policymakers.


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