In 2020, Twitter began suggesting to users who searched for specific drug-related words such as “cannabis,” that they might consider getting help for substance use. This feature, which was created in agreement with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is now suspended, reported Marijuana Moment.
The note suggesting help, which did not appear when people searched for alcohol, had been roundly criticized by marijuana advocates. They argued that Twitter was implying that any interest in marijuana indicates a potential substance misuse problem. What about medical marijuana? Or policy reforms? Or job searches in the industry?
“Help is available. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, you are not alone,” the standard warning said, directing users to SAMHSA’s helpline and website.
Why the sudden change?
It is still unclear if the sudden suspension of the feature was the result of an expired arrangement between Twitter and SAMHSA or of it was removed due to policy changes stemming from the platform’s new owner Elon Musk.
It seems both could be possible in that SAMHSA functions within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which recently tweeted about cannabis policy changes.
— Secretary Xavier Becerra (@SecBecerra) December 5, 2022
On the other hand, the Tesla CEO has been known to publicly discuss cannabis and even consume it. Musk stirred up controversy when smoked a joint on a 2018 Joe Rogan podcast.
In August, Musk tweeted a humorous screenshot about what it’s like to get high on weed.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 11, 2022
After only 33 minutes of its posting, the tweet had received 29,000 likes from people around the world who apparently could relate to it. Comments were going from “LMFAO”, to “this is the richest man in the world.”
The Tweet went public shortly after the recent Nelk Boys “Full Send” podcast, in which Musk revealed that his pot-smoking incident on the Joe Rogan show came with consequences.
He said he was drug tested for “everything” after that.
Musk said there were consequences not just for him but that his SpaceX staff was also randomly drug tested.
Musk did clarify that he is not a regular marijuana user, as he believes it is not good for productivity — at least not for him.
Known for his bold stances on various issues, he has often asked pertinent questions about marijuana — if weed is a legal business in the U.S. why are so many people still imprisoned over it? Some two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, Musk tweeted: “Selling weed literally went from major felony to essential business (open during pandemic) in much of America & yet many are still in prison. Doesn’t make sense, isn’t right.”
More recently, he voiced the same concern over the Brittney Griner case when he shared a meme of a man with his hands on his hips saying, “people in the US in jail for weed while the government trades a Russian war criminal to free a woman’s basketball player in jail for weed.”
Musk wrote, “Maybe free some people in jail for weed here too?”
Neither Twitter nor SAMHSA immediately responded to the outlet’s request for comment.
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.