High Folks: Arend Richards Is Fighting The Digital War on Weed Censorship

For Arend Richards, the 29-year-old co-founder of WeedTube, activism is his job. When he first started smoking weed, as a novice, he feared asking more experienced stoners for help. Richards knew he wasn’t the only newbie stoner curious about how to properly acclimate to a stoner-friendly lifestyle, so he decided to begin recording tutorials for YoutTube. Four years after his first viral video, Richards is still letting stoners know he is a valuable resource within the industry, especially for those creating in digital spaces.

Before Richards began using cannabis in 2012 to treat his mastocytosis, his first impression of weed was that it provided a “good laughy time”. When weed became legal in Colorado, Richards decided he wanted to add cannabis to his mastocytosis treatment plan. 

“I went to see a specialist once cannabis was legal in Colorado to ask if cannabis [could] be a replacement medication for me,” Richards shared with High Times. After implementing cannabis into his treatment plan, Richards was down to one pill per day plus cannabis to treat his mastocytosis. 

After experiencing the medicinal and recreational benefits of cannabis, Richards began to create content for YouTube to help new smokers.

“By the time that I started talking about weed on YouTube, I had been on [the platform] for six months,” said Richards. “I [eventually] made a video called ‘How To Smoke Weed from a Pipe‘. When I first started smoking weed I wanted to ask the people I was smoking with how to use the pipe,” recalls Richards. “But I felt nervous because I felt dumb. Then I thought [about how] a lot of people probably didn’t know how to use a normal pipe, so I made a video about it.”

The video went viral. Richards was encouraged to begin using his platform to teach people about cannabis. Soon after his viral success, Richards published videos like ‘10 Things To Know Before You Smoke Weed‘, ‘How To Make an Apple Pipe‘, and ‘How To Use a Grinder for Weed‘.

In March 2018, Richards channel was deleted at 120k during YouTube’s infamous cannabis purge.

“It was devastating at the time. I was very lucky to be surrounded by other people within the community that were also deleted,” said Richards. YouTube also deleted popular Weed channels like CustomGrow420, TheHighCouple, and StrainCentral.

“I think if I had been alone at that time it would have been really depressing to go through because I put all of my heart, soul, and creativity into that channel,” shared Richards. 

Richards and his co-founders Aaron Woodhead, Amanda Fox, Brandon Ashburn, Danielle Johnston, Kelly DeLong, Mackenzie McCurry, Ryan Kornblatt, and Theodore Maly started building the platform in February 2018 when YouTube began taking weed channels down. The platform officially launched a week before YouTube took down Richards channel in March 2018.

“YouTube restrictions come in waves.[…] There are a lot of people using cannabis openly on YouTube now, but there will come a day when YouTube goes back through and

says, ‘Okay, we [have] to clear this up again,’” said Richards. “They’re essentially saying, ‘Okay, we have too much of this, and we need to get rid of it!’

The intersection of cannabis and technology has made platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Google restrictive spaces for cannabis content creators. What does America want the cannabis industry to become? The green rush has gone digital, so why is our society so focused on keeping the cannabis industry in the dark ages? With every progressive attempt to create a sustainable and fair industry, we are reminded that everything in America is a slave to limitations. 

On May 24th, the official WeedTube app had been suspended by the Google Play Store without warning. Though seemingly blocked, Richards and the WeedTube Team continued to fight against censorship.

“This isn’t the first time TheWeedTube app has seen resistance from a major store citing its celebration of cannabis – […] Richard’s and his team had to jump through weeks of hoops to secure Apple’s approval for the app, incurring a four-week delay in the launch,” read an email from Alexandra Rush of Rosen Group PR.

“We’ve had our issues Apple’s App Store and The Google Play Store, but now, luckily as of right now, knock on wood, everything is out. Everything is good and we are finally running smoothly,” said Richards. “The whole journey has been such an incredible process becauseI didn’t expect to be running a company like this with my life. WeedTube is just trying to provide a service we believe the world needs.”

The post High Folks: Arend Richards Is Fighting The Digital War on Weed Censorship appeared first on High Times.


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