Weed has gone mainstream, cannabis culture is spreading, and it is much less of a forbidden substance than it once was. Marijuana is legal in 37 U.S. states for medicinal purposes. In 21 of those states, you don’t even need a doctor’s note to get your sesh on—it’s legal for recreational adult use.
Still, many employers, universities, and doctors have prohibitions that can cost you your job, education, or critical medication, even in states where it’s entirely legal. Can you get in trouble for weed-related content online?
Many people are curious about the risks of consuming, cultivating or even communicating the virtues of cannabis on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Even if it’s legal to possess, use, and grow where you are, is it ok to feature it in live streams or video-on-demand content?
Here’s a look at the official and unofficial policies and what you can do to avoid being banned or demonetized over your favorite plant.
Can You Smoke Weed on Twitch?
Twitch is the most popular live-streaming platform. Initially focused on fast-paced gaming, it has grown to include musical performances and other creative content. But what about a little recreational botany?
You can kill zombies, the ender dragon, and (if you’re a GTA V fan) innocent bystanders by the score, but can you smoke weed on Twitch? Whether you can spark up on stream without getting in trouble relies mainly on the policies of the company that owns Twitch.
You might have heard of them.
Of Blunts and Bezos=
Amazon is the largest online retailer in the U.S. They also own Twitch Interactive, and it’s safe to assume Amazon dictates policies around things like whether you can smoke weed on Twitch. The problem is, Amazon’s policies are vague.
The site sells “glass pipes for tobacco” and other definitely-not-for-tobacco products, but it’s a fuzzy area. Some merchants see their products delisted if they make explicit mention of marijuana. But what about their streaming platform? Even if it’s legal where you are, can you smoke on Twitch without getting in trouble?
Twitch is even more vague about its drug policies. It doesn’t seem to matter to the $2.6 billion streaming giant that marijuana is legal in one form or another across most of the U.S. On Twitch, it’s still a matter of technicalities.
If you’re lucky enough to live anywhere 4:20 is A-OK, you could theoretically consume cannabis on stream if it’s legal where you’re broadcasting from, even if your audience is in a place where it’s still prohibited.
Technically. Twitch Terms of Service mandate that all streamers “respect all applicable local, national, and international laws while using our services.” The ToS states that “any content or activity featuring, encouraging, or soliciting illegal activity is prohibited.” And cannabis? Still technically illegal in the U.S.
While it isn’t a direct violation of the Twitch ToS agreement, sparking up on stream is discouraged. You’re not likely to pull a ban for smoking weed on Twitch, but there’s nothing to stop someone from flagging your stream for “illegal” drug use.
The thing is, cannabis content is already on Twitch. Several channels focus on the cultivation of marijuana available 24/7, with some streamers even featuring live shots of their plants.
A few years ago, Snoop Dogg famously smoked a blunt while streaming an early-access game. Channels like PotQuest feature DIY tutorials on cannabis cultivation. More than a few channels like ChefAnnaWithTheTwitch showcase “live streams from the grow studio.”
Why is it ok for these channels to chat about smoking cannabis, depict it during gaming sessions, and even focus on the cultivation and preparation of the plant? Snoop and PotQuest stream from California and Chef Anna’s “Detroit Grown” content comes from Michigan, both recreational marijuana states.
Considerations for Smoking Weed on Twitch
If you absolutely must smoke weed on Twitch, there are some things you can do to limit the risk of being flagged. Marking your channel as “mature content” indicates your content is for users who are 18 and older and can help your channel avoid scrutiny. You’ll also want to label your content “for mature audiences only,” which prevents it from being recommended to younger viewers.
Unlucky enough to live in a medicinal-only state? It’s probably best if you keep your cannabis consumption off-camera. Cannabis use can get you flagged, and there’s no way for Twitch to verify if your possession of the plant is legal.
If you’re concerned about it, abstain from smoking weed on Twitch. Twitch has always straddled a fine (and blurry) line on its policies about drug use, and if the platform decides to flag you, there’s not much you can do about it.
Can You Smoke Weed on Youtube?
YouTube’s rules are even more confusing. The platform has been 420-unfriendly in the past, with some creators suspended or demonetized without warning over cannabis-related content.
While YouTube has been less restrictive about cannabis content recently, it’s notoriously difficult to determine what is and isn’t allowed on YouTube. Worse still, YouTube can (and does) pull content or demonetize creators for reasons that often seem randomly arbitrary.
Can you smoke weed on YouTube? If you’re a billionaire, yes. Remember when Elon Musk lit up on Joe Rogan’s YouTube show? NASA demanded a “safety audit and cultural review” of Musk’s company SpaceX, which had been tasked with producing a replacement for the space shuttle.
Rogan and Musk didn’t get in trouble. YouTube’s official policies state that cannabis use can be depicted if the consumer is over 21 and is broadcasting or recording in a state where cannabis use is legal. But the “safety audit” cost U.S. taxpayers over $5 million.
YouTube Advertising and Monetization
YouTube now allows channels that “focus on the purchase, manufacture, or distribution of drugs” to be monetized. Nothing stops marijuana-related brands from advertising across the platform beside the fine print.
The new rules state that any such content must be presented in a journalistic manner—objectively, without glorification, and with the intent to inform or educate. Can you smoke weed on YouTube? It’s tricky. Any content which portrays “the abuse, purchase, manufacture, sale or discovery of drugs […] in a graphic and detailed manner” is likely to draw negative attention from the platform.
A video series on the business of cannabis farming and distribution could meet YouTube’s standards for monetization and have no issues. Videos about backyard grow ops, baking with cannabis, or “the world’s biggest bong rip” are likely to have much shorter lifespans.
The answer to “Can you smoke on YouTube?” is probably “no.” Any content relating to how to use drugs, find dealers, or conceal your stash from prying eyes will also run into trouble.
Twitch and YouTube allow the cultivation and consumption of cannabis to be depicted on their platforms from places where it’s legal to do those things. Still, they have also flagged and demonetized streamers and channels for featuring such content.
Can you smoke weed on YouTube stream or any other streaming platform? You might be able to get away with it, but don’t make it the focus of your content. This falls under the “respect all applicable local, national, and international law” guidelines presented by both Twitch and YouTube.
Use your best judgment, and decide how much it means to you—and whether you can afford to have content taken down or demonetized—before lighting up on stream.