By Arend Richard
It’s been over 4 years since YouTube deleted hundreds of cannabis channels including my own.
(Wow… 4 years? Damn I’m getting old.)
YouTube later returned the majority of those channels to the platform. Nearly every single channel was reinstated… Except mine. That makes me sound bitter. I’m not. Wouldn’t want that channel back if they gave it to me. It’s just a fact that I’m stating so you’re aware.
It has been thought for a couple years now that YouTube was allowing cannabis content again. I’d heard people in the cannabis industry say it many times. “Well YouTube allows weed videos again…” That’s never a fun thing to hear when you’re the co-founder of a long form video platform for user generated content that was founded in the face of censorship on YouTube. But it was the reality. YouTube seemed to have lessened their opposition to cannabis content. Except for mine. Which again… I’m only stating for fact.
The channel had 46,000 subscribers and featured Chrissy unboxing and reviewing cannabis related products. If the channel were still there, you’d see Chrissy’s signature smile as she usually held the product she’d be featuring next to her and discussing the sales process with her online family. While I can’t claim to be an expert of every aspect of Chrissy’s content, I’ve seen a lot of it. I’ve also seen a lot of absolutely wild weed content uploaded to YouTube by many other people. This is not meant to be a judgment on anyone, it’s just a fact. When comparing Chrissy’s content against the other weed stuff on YouTube, it is obvious to anyone that her content is significantly less offensive*.
*offensive: I can’t think of a better word to use. It’s not meant to say that I am offended by more extreme cannabis content or that people should be offended. I am just trying to use a word that I think YouTube would use.
The conversation we had really had an impact on me, and Chrissy was kind enough to give me permission to share it all with you:
AR: Arend Richard | CH: Chrissy Harless
AR: I’m just curious as to what you think happened? Why was your channel deleted?
CH: I think that it was my linking.
AR: Linking to?
CH: All the brands.
AR: Did they (YouTube) tell you that?
CH: They just said “We’ve reviewed your content and found severe repeated violations of community guidelines and because of this we’ve removed your channel from YouTube.”
AR: You didn't have any strikes?
CH: No. I got a strike a long time ago, maybe two years ago.
This is an incredibly interesting fact that shouldn’t be overlooked. Back in 2018 when YouTube when on their original purge, three strikes had to be given to an account before it was deleted. Myself and everyone I knew at the time had the same experience. One day you’d recieve 1 strike. Then another day, another one. Sometimes it would take a whole month before you were deleted, Sometimes a day. In my case my channel was gone one week after the first strike.
For Chrissy to just be deleted without any advanced warning is unheard of. If there is another purge coming, this one could be a sign.
AR: How is this channel deletion going to affect you?
CH: It is my soul 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.
I guess it hurts more than I was expecting it to hurt.
They [YouTube] are able to promote gambling on ads, pharmaceuticals on ads, alcohol. YouTube’s 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.
AR: YouTube cites that a lot of their reasoning for doing what they do with cannabis is because of their vast audience and protecting children which they’ve said before… As a mother, do you think any of the content you posted was inappropriate for a worldwide platform for content?
CH: Because it was age restricted- no. I don’t think that anything that I promoted put anyone in danger or harm. Everything that I’ve done has been within the parameters of being safe and healthy and positive.
AR: And because your content is already age restricted, that should be enough of a wall so that your content can only be viewed by those who should appropriately view it.
CH: Exactly, and every single video is age restricted with the exception of a handful of CBD ones.
AR: In the realm of cannabis content on YouTube, do you think that your content steps beyond a line comparative to other people?
CH: No. NO (she laughs). Not in comparison to other people I think that as far as my content goes if you were to flavor it with ice cream it’s vanilla with maybe a little sprinkles on top.
AR: Who is going to be affected by the loss of your channel?
CH: Me, my husband, my kids, my assistant… and a hundred brands that I work with. It’s the only way that people can find them to purchase from them.
AR: And how would you describe the majority of the brands you work with?
CH: 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.
AR: And you also had an Instagram account deletion recently…
CH: Very recently. And that was a struggle for a solid month to get it back. And thankfully I got it back. I just don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
AR: Why do you keep making cannabis content when all these platforms keep shutting you down?
CH: Because I have a passion for it, and I love it. 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.
AR: Anything else you want to say about this whole situation?
CH: I wish that a lot more people would rely on The WeedTube! For their views, for their content consumption of cannabis in general. 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. Them (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. They (YouTube and Google) don’t understand how safe this (cannabis) is.
AR: One last question, if you could have a conversation with Susan Wojanecki, the CEO of YouTube, right now… what would you say to her?
CH: I would encourage her to… really learn about cannabis first. And understand it better herself, so that she has an idea of what it is that we’re regulating. And then create fair and consistent rules across the platform.
My heart sincerely goes out to her right now. I know what it’s like to lose a channel that is also your livelihood, and it’s not easy. At all. All of this begs the question though… If the “vanilla with sprinkles on top” severity level of content is at risk… who’s next?
Though it is surprising that Chrissy Harless's youtube channel was deleted, it’s not surprising that YouTube is taking this turn again. I always knew the time would come that they would once again pivot on cannabis, and it’s going to keep happening until well beyond federal legalization. No one can say when platforms will change their stance on legal cannabis regulation or if they’ll just go into adopting the approach that Instagram has with their clear monopoly creating bias towards the weed industry. There is also currently a petition asking Instagram to have a roundtable with their leaders to discuss advertising cannabis in the future. There has been no response from Instagram despite this petition reaching thousands of signatures.
What I can say for sure, is that WeedTube will always remain fair and equal to the online cannabis community. 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 of channel's social media today.
For now though, be sure to follow Chrissy on WeedTube, and support her initiative on Instagram.
Any updates will be noted here in the future.
By The WeedTube
WeedTube was launched on March 1st of 2018 by a community of deleted content creators. As we continue to grow, WeedTube strives to provide all services with integrity. Our mission is to provide for the community, and provide a change in perception of cannabis around the world. We are working hard to consistently create a platform that services our community in the best ways possible.