South Surrey entrepreneur Justin Lloyd is marketing edible-cannabis candy kit. (Aaron Hinks photo)

South Surrey cannabis startup faces ‘discrimination’ from Facebook, Kickstarter

Justin Lloyd’s product, ‘The Edibles Kit’ was suspended from Kickstarter after securing $10,000

A South Surrey-based entrepreneur’s fundraising campaign for a product that teaches adults how to make THC-infused candies has gone up in smoke, and he says it’s just one example of discrimination against the legal cannabis industry.

Justin Lloyd first contacted Peace Arch News shortly after the Canada-wide legalization of cannabis Oct. 17 to promote his business, Grow Guide Pro, and crowd-sourcing campaign for the Edibles Kit on Kickstarter.com

The online fundraising page for the kit, which was initially approved by Kickstarter, teaches adults how to create THC-infused (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) butter, honey, coconut oil and candies. The product does not include cannabis.

This past Monday, Lloyd reached his $10,000 goal with the help of 22 financial backers.

Thursday, Lloyd was notified that his Kickstarter campaign had been suspended, citing “inappropriate content.”

“This was approved. It was approved right away when I submitted it. This comes as a complete shock to me,” Lloyd told PAN.

Kickstarter communications officer David Gallagher confirmed to PAN Thursday that the Edibles Kit campaign was suspended because “our rules prohibit projects involving drugs or drug paraphernalia.”

“Kickstarter is a global platform,” Gallagher emailed PAN. “And cannabis and its paraphernalia are still regulated in many places, if not Canada. Moderating a global platform is a challenging thing, as you can imagine.”

Gallagher added that campaign suspensions for Kickstarter – which is based out of New York – are not reversible.

The $10,000 Lloyd raised through the Kickstarter website has been returned to the people who donated.

Lloyd said he respects Gallagher’s response, “but the fact remains is that there is no edible or cannabis product in the kit.”

“With cannabis legalization, the government did not include the framework to educate people how to go about making their own edibles or even buying their own edibles. Any person who does not want to smoke or inhale vapor is kind of stuck,” he said. “They have to go to the store, buy legal cannabis, then experiment with it. That’s why this product really provided insight and a very straight forward process.”

The suspension of the Kickstarter campaign isn’t the first online roadblock Lloyd has encountered while trying to promote his company. Lloyd made several attempts to pay Facebook and Instagram to “boost” a post advertising the Kickstarter campaign.

On his sponsored Facebook post, Lloyd targeted residents of British Columbia.

“But, three or four times I tried to boost different posts to promote the Kickstarter campaign, they were denied,” Lloyd said.

After PAN published an article about The Edibles Kit Oct. 28, the Star Vancouver followed the story and published it on the front page of its newspaper Oct. 30. Lloyd thought he would have more success with boosting a Facebook post if he simply took a photo of the Star newspaper article, and used the photo in a sponsored post.

“I thought there was no way they’re not going to allow a newspaper cover that’s Canada-wide,” Lloyd said. “People share newspaper articles all of the time. Clearly, I should be able to share the front page of a newspaper.”

But, “sure enough,” the sponsored post was denied.

Despite legalization, Lloyd said both incidents demonstrate a pattern of discrimination against small business owners trying to carve a path in the cannabis industry.

He said that part of his reasoning of contacting PAN this week is to raise awareness in the hope that international companies will reevaluate how it handles cannabis-related startups.

More information about the Edibles Kit can be found at https://www.theedibleskit.com/



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

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