According to an interview on April 5 with WeedTube Co-founder Arend Richard, creating cannabis video content is Chrissy Harless’s livelihood. “It is my [sole] income. It is my business. HarlessMediaGroupLLC. It is… the way that my husband is now at home working with us. How we are able to spend more time with our kids and have happier lives,” Harless said. “[YouTube is] able to promote gambling on ads, pharmaceuticals on ads, alcohol. YouTube [is] able to accept the money from their advertisers to promote it in ads. These are all regulated industries as well, but a content creator isn’t allowed to do the same? I don’t even glorify it. I don’t over consume. I’m very educational.” Harless’s usual content consisted of reviews and unboxing videos for various cannabis-related products.
With the deletion of her channel, Harless estimates that not only her family will be affected, but also the many brands she frequently worked with. “Small businesses. Almost every single one of them is a small business. An Etsy shop or a mom-and-pop kinda situation. It’s a diverse group of small businesses just trying to share something safe.” Harless believes that the account termination may have been caused by linking to these companies and products, but she received no official explanation from YouTube.
Her Instagram account was also banned recently, but after a month of action, she was at least able to regain ownership of it. When asked why she keeps trying, she replied that it’s just what she enjoys doing. “Because I have a passion for it, and I love it,” she explained. “It’s benefited my life and helped me find happiness in my life. And I know that other people will benefit from this. I know that other people do benefit from it.”
Harless mentioned that she’ll be moving to operate on WeedTube going forward. “I wish that a lot more people would rely on The WeedTube! For their views, for their content consumption of cannabis in general,” Harless said. “Because it is truly the only safe platform that you can share and not be concerned. And everyone on there is still responsible about it. [YouTube] making this a point is showing that there’s still so much of a stigma. Like they just assume that cannabis is dangerous. It’s not. [YouTube and Google] don’t understand how safe this [cannabis] is.”
According to Richard, it’s the perfect platform to find an unlimited amount of cannabis video content. “What I can say for sure, is that WeedTube will always remain open to the cannabis community to post their content freely,” Richard concluded. “We were founded by deleted creators, for deleted creators. We never stopped serving that purpose, and we look forward to bringing the cannabis community even more functionality to combat all the censoring social media today.”
The trend of YouTube account termination for cannabis content began to ramp up four years ago in 2018. At the time, accounts owners reported receiving three strikes before an account was officially deleted (although the time frame of when the account would officially be deleted seemed to vary). In Harless’s case, she received no strikes at all prior to the account termination (although she does mention a strike that she received about two years ago).
WeedTube began a campaign to bring attention to cannabis censorship on Instagram in March, including a petition that requests Instagram leadership to “join a roundtable discussion with experts in the cannabis industry to update their policies and regulations around legal cannabis content to provide fair and equal opportunity to our rapidly growing industry.”