Instagramming about marijuana could result in 6-figure fine, jail time

instagram marijuana laws cheerful young guy with beard is smoking
Olena Yakobchuk/123RF
A new report regarding the dangers surrounding Instagram posts of users smoking weed is giving new meaning to the term, “bad trip.”

Despite the reported rise in images of recreational marijuana use on social media, a retired drug enforcement administration agent is warning Instagrammers not to follow the trend.

“Even though 23 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states have legalized recreational marijuana, marijuana remains illegal federally,” says Patricia D’Orsa-Dijamco, a former agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The legal blowback from a post that depicts a person smoking weed – in particular, in states that have anti-marijuana laws – could result in a fine of up to $150,000 and an 18-month jail sentence, according to social media strategist Shannon Self.

Instagram itself is very clear about “unlawful” content on its site, which falls under its restrictions, alongside “violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory…infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos.”

Yet, that hasn’t stopped users posting images of marijuana in droves, and even creating dedicated accounts to the joys of smoking weed.

“No persons should be posting pictures of themselves smoking pot and using pot-themed hashtags to attract fans and ‘likes’ in any state,” D’Orsa-Dijamco told Fox News. “People who post pictures of themselves could potentially face criminal charges.”

Although Instagram refused to comment on the report, Self added that the social network is looking into the “legalities of changing its policies.”

Contrary to Self’s statements, Instagram has done little to remove weed-related posts from its service. Popular Instagrammers, including pop stars Miley Cyrus and Wiz Khalifa, have shared videos and images of themselves smoking weed on numerous occasions, without restriction.

Never been a buster.

A photo posted by Wiz Khalifa (@mistercap) on

D’Orsa-Dijamco also reiterated the commonly held notion that sharing drug-related posts on social media will negatively impact a user’s professional life, stating, “One minimizes their potential employment and earning capacity which may, in the end, affect their life.”


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