By / June 13, 2023

Why Did Twitch Ban Cannabis But Allow Alcohol?

Twitch, the game streaming platform, has updated its policy for streamers, banning the promotion of cannabis-related business while explicitly allowing alcohol-related partnerships.

Amazon, the owner of the Twitch platform, has backed away from other unrelated aspects of the new policy changes in the face of significant resistance from the gaming community. Currently, however, it maintains a ban on cannabis.

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Changes to Twitch’s Sponsored Content Policy

The branded content policy on Twitch covers product placement, recommendations, sponsored gameplay, paid unboxings, and branded channels. The list of prohibited brand deals says streamers can’t receive payments for promoting “cannabis-related products, including vaporization and inhalation products.”

An interesting caesura, however, is alcohol, where Twitch allows promotion of it in exchange for payment, provided the products are “labeled as adult content.”

In addition to cannabis, players are also subject to other branding restrictions on Twitch, which include weapons, adult content, tobacco products, medical facilities, and political content.

A streamer nicknamed JimTanna pointed out the discrepancy between the Twitch rules on cannabis and alcohol, claiming that “everyone is confused” after the update, which he believes will hurt the platform’s ability to monetize.

Interestingly, Twitch clarified the rules last year to favor cannabis – excluding references to cannabis from the list of banned usernames, as it does for alcohol and tobacco.

Other Tech Giants Besides Twitch on Cannabis Legalization

Other tech companies besides Twitch are also changing their cannabis policies as legalization continues in more states and the market grows.

Twitter, for example, removed a feature that suggested users search the site for certain drug-related keywords, including “cannabis,” to consider drug treatment. Such a suggestion did not appear when searching for the word “alcohol.”

Last year, in an update to Apple’s iPhone software, users were allowed to track medications and learn about possible interactions with other substances – including cannabis.

In 2021, Apple ended its policy of restricting cannabis-related businesses from operating in its App Store. Cannabis delivery service Eaze then announced that customers could, for the first time, buy and pay for products in its iPhone app.

Social Media and Cannabis Legalization

Last year, New York cannabis regulators asked social media app TikTok to end its ban on advertising that includes the word “cannabis” as they worked to promote public education about legalization in the state.

On Facebook, cannabis-related businesses operating legally in the state, advocacy groups and government entities such as the California Cannabis Control Board have complained of “silent blocking,” where their profiles don’t show up in standard searches. There were reports in 2018 that the social media giant plans to relax its restrictive cannabis policies, but it is unclear what steps it has taken to do so.

There’s a similar problem with Instagram, owned by Facebook, where people have consistently claimed their accounts have been deleted by the app for cannabis-related content, even if they weren’t advertising sales or promoting cannabis use.

Unlike Apple, Google’s Android app center updated its policy in 2019 to explicitly ban programs that link users to cannabis, regardless of whether they are legal in the jurisdiction where the user lives. In December 2022, Google announced that it would update its terms of service for “Dangerous Products and Services and Health Care and Medicines” to allow cannabis advertising in California, Colorado and Puerto Rico.

As cannabis becomes more legalized and the market grows, technology companies are beginning to rethink their cannabis policies. Many of them, including Amazon, are beginning to adopt a more progressive approach. However, Twitch, the streaming platform owned by Amazon, appears to be moving in the opposite direction, allowing the promotion of alcohol but maintaining a ban on cannabis. This casts a shadow over the future of the cannabis industry on the Twitch platform and demonstrates the dilemma facing technology companies as they try to balance their policies with dynamic social and legal changes.

Why Should Cannabis and Not Alcohol Be Allowed on the Twitch Platform?

Twitch, as a leading game streaming platform, has a major influence on the gaming community worldwide. Faced with this, what kind of policy for promoting psychoactive substances should it follow? Let’s take a closer look at the issue by considering the arguments for allowing cannabis rather than alcohol.

Alcohol – a threat to health and safety

Alcohol, regardless of the dose, is a poison to the body. It negatively affects brain function, leading to impaired coordination, perception or thought processes. Long-term consumption of alcohol can lead to serious health problems, such as cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease and even cancer.

Moreover, alcohol is often a source of aggression and violence. Studies show that alcohol consumption increases the risk of engaging in aggressive behavior, which is especially dangerous in the context of online communities, where toxic behavior is already a serious problem.

Cannabis – An Alternative to Alcohol?

Compared to alcohol, cannabis is far less harmful. Although the abuse of cannabis is not risk-free, it does not lead to aggression, and the potential damage to health is much less. In many cases, cannabis is also used for medical purposes, which is definitely not the case with alcohol.

What’s more, the legalization of cannabis around the world is going full steam ahead, which means that society is becoming more accepting of its use. This change in attitude should also be reflected on platforms such as Twitch, which have a real impact on perception and social norms.

The importance of responsible promotion policies

Undoubtedly, both alcohol and cannabis should be promoted responsibly and with respect for younger users of the platform. However, it is important that Twitch’s policy in this regard is in line with current trends and the scientific consensus on the harmfulness of these substances.

Alcohol, despite its toxicity and potential to cause aggression, is often accepted in mass culture, while cannabis, despite being less harmful, is still stigmatized. In this context, Twitch could play an important role in countering these unfair stereotypes by promoting a responsible and informed approach to cannabis.

Twitch, Alcohol, and Cannabis FAQ

Does Twitch allow the promotion of alcohol on its platform?

Yes, Twitch allows the promotion of alcohol as long as the products are labeled as adult content.

Does Twitch prohibit the promotion of cannabis?

Yes, Twitch’s current policy prohibits the promotion of cannabis-related business.

Do other technology companies also ban the promotion of cannabis?

Not all of them. Many tech companies are rethinking their cannabis policies, and some, such as Amazon, are introducing more progressive policies.

What are the implications of this Twitch policy for streamers?

Streamers are not allowed to receive payments for promoting cannabis-related products, which affects their ability to monetize the platform.

Has Twitch ever allowed the promotion of cannabis?

Twitch once excluded references to cannabis from its list of prohibited usernames, but the latest policy update definitely prohibits the promotion of cannabis.

(Featured illustration by Caspar Camille Rubin via Unsplash)

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