The rise of the social network has made it more convenient for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to seek out illegal drug activity. The agency’s latest National Drug Threat Assessment Summary reveals that the DEA is currently gathered around a bunch of computers searching for photos posted to various social media sites and perusing drug-related hashtags in order to drum up leads on the next house to receive a complimentary shakedown courtesy of Uncle Sam.
“Social media reflects how younger people perceive marijuana use as evidenced by various Internet searches that demonstrate minors using marijuana publicly and with impunity. Social media users of all ages, but primarily younger individuals, have posted hundreds of thousands of photos of themselves with marijuana products on various social media sites; these photos are associated with hashtags that represent marijuana (e.g. #420, #710, #BHO, #dabs).” (on page 70)
The DEA’s report goes on to say that around 1,200 photos and videos attached to the hashtag #BHO were posted to Instagram every day in 2014. However, the agency did not elaborate on the frequency of other pot-related hashtags commonly used on the site.
Yet, the DEA confirms that they are a witness to it all.
“In November 2014, after the success of a popular online challenge, another social media challenge was issued for people to post photos and videos of themselves using marijuana in public places with the corresponding hashtag #loudchallenge. In response to the challenge, people have posted videos of themselves using marijuana in restaurants, in airports, on public transportation, and in classrooms.”
As it was recently pointed out by Susan Squibb of Denver’s pot-related website, The Cannabist, while “it’s O.K. [in legal states] to post online photos of your home grow… make sure your garden is compliant [with the state’s grow limits] before posting photos.”
In states where prohibition is alive and well, posting any marijuana-related photos to social media sites, while not technically against the law, could be enough to get local law enforcement snooping around. Last year, a South Carolina man posted a photo to Instagram of him burning a joint while flying a middle finger at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department website. Although the cops couldn’t bust him for posting the photo, they eventually nailed him to the wall using an undercover sting operation.