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For any copyright, please send me a message. Jason Higgins spent the years after he left the military, following nearly a decade of service, struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, a drinking problem and side effects from the prescriptions he had hoped would help him. It wasn’t until he discovered cannabidiol, or CBD — a plant extract with supposed health benefits including relief from anxiety and PTSD — that he felt like he’d found an option that was right for him. So last year, when President Trump officially legalized hemp, Higgins decided to go into business selling hemp-derived CBD products with a fellow Navy SEAL veteran. The financial prospects were great — market research suggests the CBD industry will hit $20 billion by 2024 — giving Higgins the confidence to pour his life savings into launching a startup, Easy Day Hemp. But there was a major obstacle he couldn’t foresee: sweeping censorship by digital ad giants. As soon as their business was up and running, Higgins and his partner tried to run ads on Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, to promote their products. Not only were their ads immediately rejected, their entire ad account was shut down — the same penalty marketers could face for attempting to peddle OxyContin or other illicit goods there. Higgins was stunned. “It’s not like we’re selling something that’s illegal or dangerous,” said the 35-year-old, who lives in San Diego with his family. “” Facebook’s public policies prohibit the sale of “illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.” But CBD extract isn’t classified as a drug. So what had Higgins and his business partner done wrong? Secret CBD Censorship Although hemp-derived CBD is legal, certain restrictions remain in place: It cannot contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in marijuana that gets you high; it cannot be marketed as a food additive or labeled as a dietary supplement; and, as CBD is still under review by the FDA, sellers cannot make explicit claims about their products’ therapeutic benefits without first obtaining approval from the agency. Higgins and other CBD business owners have taken great care to obey the law as it has evolved, but have struggled immensely to understand and abide by the much stricter, more secretive and inconsistently enforced ad policies of tech platforms that act as gatekeepers to mainstream digital marketing. Facebook in particular makes no mention of CBD anywhere in its public ad guidelines, but it has an internal policy that specifically bans ads for CBD and ingestible hemp products, as The Verge first reported. This secret rule goes far beyond the legal requirements in the U.S., and the consequences for breaking it can be extre