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Twitch’s Budding Weed Stars Are Doing Their Best To Educate People, Whether Twitch Likes It Or Not

Twitch’s gardening section contains multitudes. Some people broadcast apple orchards. Others build birdhouses. Others play Stardew Valley. But at most times of the day, those streams are crowded out by one of the most instantly recognizable plants on earth: the seven-armed starfish, Beelzebub’s kale salad, other names I didn’t just make up. I speak, of course, about weed.

It is difficult not to joke on this, the hallowed day of 4/20 in the once-in-a-lifetime supernova that is the month of 4/20, but cannabis growing on Twitch is serious business. Many streamers have adopted a similar format: a camera on their plants—the number of which is generally limited to a small handful based on state and country laws—and lengthy streams of either cultivation and growth-related discussion or just the plants themselves. Some augment this with more personality-driven content like gaming, movie watching, or smoke sessions. A handful of these streams never end. Barring technical issues, they run 24/7. People show up in droves to watch this; the biggest cannabis streamers pull between 20 and 100+ concurrent viewers at any given moment. This, admittedly, is a far cry from the tens or hundreds of thousands who regularly show up to follow the cream of Twitch’s video game streamer crop, but it still totals out to thousands of people regularly watching cannabis streams on Twitch.

Why, though? Why do people take pleasure in watching grass grow? One of the biggest cannabis streamers, who goes by the handle PotQuest , says people used to show up to gawk at what they regarded as activities involving illicit drugs.

“There’s a major thing on Twitch with risky content—stuff that’s edgy,” PotQuest, who helps run a medicinal cannabis co-op in Riverside County, California, told Kotaku over a Discord voice call. “That’s where a lot of it was at first. There were a lot of folks that would enjoy seeing others getting high. I got that a lot. I’d get a lot of people who would ask me ‘Can you stop and smoke a dab?’ They love seeing that part, the inebriation.”

Just as some streamers get drunk and play games on Twitch, people have also taken to getting high and playing games to give their streams that all-important, viewer-drawing edge. To this day, some big-name streamers like Kaceytron joke about how they’re always high when they’re streaming. Most do not, however, regularly smoke on stream.

PotQuest said that in more recent years, a few factors led to the rise of streamers who focus mostly on cannabis growth and culture. For one, Twitch opened the floodgates to non-video game streamers, first with a monolithic IRL section in 2016, and then with a series of more focused sections in the following years. This meant that people could spotlight the plant itself instead of having their hands wrapped firmly around a controller for the majority of their streams. Around the same time, cannabis personalities on YouTube started to face pushback from the company, leading them to experiment with Twitch, which generally allows cannabis-related content as long as it’s legal in the state or country from which the streamer is operating and they don’t make any attempt to sell the cannabis. An emerging cannabis scene on Instagram grew the audience for cannabis streams even further, especially as personalities realized that Twitch afforded them opportunities for more elaborate camera setups and means of interacting with their communities.

Now people congregate around cannabis streamers on Twitch for a variety of reasons. It begins, said a cannabis streamer and author who goes by the handle Chef Anna , with curiosity.

“I think a lot of people never get to see the plants while they’re alive,” Chef Anna, who lives in Detroit, told Kotaku over the phone. “I know myself, my first time seeing a live marijuana plant, I had been smoking for years. I think that’s really the big thing about it: people being able to get more access and see those things, to then be able to grow and cultivate for themselves. And I think it’s more exciting to see exactly where your bud is coming from, how it was cultivated. It’s almost like watching a pet.”

Chef Anna has taken this idea and run with it, allowing viewers to sponsor specific plants, name them, and receive regular updates on their progress. “People get really invested in it,” he said. “They get to watch it grow from start to finish.”

The other big thing, said Canadian cannabis streamer The BudLab , is community. Some people tune in because they’re interested in learning lessons about how to grow their own plants from an accessible group of experts. Others just want to hang out. TheBudLab has embraced this, creating a 24/7 stream that requires professional broadcasting equipment and multiple computers to keep it from melting down. By running a broadcast that includes multiple different forms of programming like human-free overnight plant cams, “wake and bake” early day smoke sessions, chat-based minigames, and more traditional video game streams, TheBudLab has cultivated an audience that shows up even when he’s not around.

“I’m taking a space that I have and building what is essentially a high tech growing facility that I’ve learned [how to create] more or less from the chat here on Twitch,” TheBudLab told Kotaku over a Discord voice call, comparing the construction of a DIY growing setup to the process of building a gaming PC. “So I think there’s a lot of people who come because they realize that they share the same passion as we do. One thing we push on our stream is ‘Never smoke alone.’ Any time you feel down or want to have a break, there’s someone always in the chat.”

LillyPain , a New England-based streamer who was prescribed cannabis to offset severe seizures after more traditional medication failed, thinks the communal element is a byproduct of cannabis’ history as a heavily policed substance.

“I mean, look out in California,” she said to Kotaku over a Discord voice call. “The biggest grows you’re gonna see are all ‘grow ops,’ because the only way to grow massive amounts is to get so many med cards together that that’s what it is. They forced us to be communal. How many people had their first smoke from a friend who got it from a who got it from a friend in college or something?”

Twitch’s gardening section contains multitudes. Some people broadcast apple orchards. Others build birdhouses. Others play Stardew Valley. But at most times of the day, those streams are crowded out by one of the most instantly recognizable plants on earth: the seven-armed starfish, Beelzebub’s kale salad, other names I didn’t just make up. I speak, of course, about weed.

Are You Allowed to Smoke Weed on Twitch?

Matt Sokol, the Flux Champion
Mar 16, 2020 · 7 min read

It’s 2020 and smoking weed is about as controversial as brewing a cup of coffee these days, at least in North America. Yet there’s always a fear of getting in trouble for it.

Unfortunately, we aren’t *quite* out of the woods of cannabis prohibition yet — at the time of this writing, Canada has fully legalized marijuana while ten of the USA’s states are now recreationally legal. Yet the pesky American government continues to enforce a “schedule one” prohibition, creating a bizarre grey area of semi-legality across the nation.

So…. can yo u smoke weed on Twitch without losing your account?

To find the answer to this question, I read Twitch’s entire Terms of Service word-for-word. On top of that, I researched and found enlightening historical examples relating to this subject. Finally, I went ahead and personally smoked weed on camera while streaming on Twitch.

We will put all three of these things together to find the most accurate and thorough answer to this question that has EVER BEEN WRITTEN! That’s right. Let’s get into it.

The Snoop Dogg Incident

Here’s a video of the first ever sanctioned weed smoking on Twitch: Snoop Dogg smoking a blunt in 2018.

While doing a live stream to promote a new video game, Snoop decided to light one up. Cannabis was freshly legal in the state as a recreational drug. For the first time, Twitch stayed silent while a high profile stream featured marijuana use.

This is pure speculation (Twitch refuses to explicitly comment on weed, which we will discuss soon), but most people assume that he was “allowed” to do so (i.e. the channel didn’t get a suspension) thanks to California’s full legalization of weed a few months prior. The assumption is that if this had happened in 2017, it would have resulted in a ban.

Celebrities do not always get the rule-free treatment on Twitch. Andy Dick was banned for doing cocaine on stream (NSFW Warning: Explicit Drug Use — https://youtu.be/8StehvC9FLI). I haven’t done any extra research on this but it appears clear to me that other illegal drugs will result in a fast and unavoidable ban.

The Second-Hand Info From Reddit

This thread features a redditor asking about the legitimacy of smoking weed on stream. That same redditor follows up with an email response supposedly from Twitch customer service. It appears totally legitimate, though there is no “proof” that the email is real.

Twitch’s response is short and to the point. I will quote the most relevant part: “We discourage broadcasters from the use of marijuana on our services. If doing so violates your local laws, causes you to inflict harm upon yourself, or is a focus of your broadcasts, this activity is entirely prohibited from broadcast.”

This paragraph states that marijuana use is DISCOURAGED but not banned. It is banned if it violates your local laws. The word “local” is important since it means that streamers in the United States of America can partake in weed on stream if they reside in one of the ten legal states.

The Direct Source: Twitch’s Terms of Service Agreement

In preparation for writing this article I read the entire Twitch terms of service. It’s a lot shorter than I expected. You can see the whole thing over here.

There are three sections of the terms of service that relate to smoking weed on stream. Here is each one, followed by my own commentary. In case it isn’t obvious, I am not a lawyer, I’m a musician and gamer, so none of this is backed by deep legal knowledge or anything — just common sense.

Part One: “YOU AGREE NOT TO violate any law, contract, intellectual property or other third-party right or commit a tort, and that you are solely responsible for your conduct while on the Twitch Services.”

This part is clear as day. If any activities you do on stream are against the law, you can be banned from Twitch for them.

Twitch operates in a grey area where they seem to avoid enforcing this rule on weed smokers unless it crosses some sort of undefined line. The TOS is super clear though. If Twitch decides they want to ban you for smoking weed, they can.

This same logic applies, for example, to jaywalking during an IRL stream. Jaywalking, i.e. crossing the street when it’s not allowed by law, is utterly commonplace in many cities around America. If a streamer technically is jaywalking on stream, they probably wouldn’t get in trouble — but if they run across a busy highway and nearly kill themselves, they might get banned. It’s a grey area that allows Twitch to ban “problem users” while also allowing people to get away with it under reasonable situations. This comes with the cost of allowing for corruption (i.e. one streamer being treated differently than another by moderation staff)

The second relevant part of the TOS: “To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, Twitch reserves the right, without notice and in our sole discretion, to terminate your license to use the Twitch Services (including to post User Content), and to block or prevent your future access to and use of the Twitch Services”

Twitch can “terminate your license” (ban you from Twitch forever) at their “sole discretion” (any reason they want) and “without notice” (no warning).

In other words, whenever you argue about if Twitch is “allowed” to ban you, it’s not a legal argument. Twitch is always legally allowed to ban you. What you’re really asking is — will it actually happen? Or can you get away with it? Can you land in the safe part of the grey area?

If you don’t believe me, look at the TOS for yourself. I don’t know if the partner agreements or high level contracts enforce different rules, but for affiliates and non-affiliate streamers, this is the way it works.

The third relevant portion of the TOS: “If we fail to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Terms of Service, it will not constitute a waiver of such right or provision.”

This part means that the past is irrelevant. If Twitch did one thing yesterday, they have the right to do a different thing today. They have the full legal authority to change their mind without warning or prior notice.

Should You Smoke Weed on Twitch?

Given the Terms of Service, you have a few options.

The absolute safest option is to not smoke weed on stream. Don’t talk about it, don’t smoke it, not even in a legal state. This gives you full confidence that you will never face any weed-related consequences on stream.

The common sense option is to only smoke weed if you are a resident of a legal state or country, and even then only when you are physically located in a legal area at that time. In other words, no streaming with weed from an illegal state — but when home, in your legal abode, go ahead. This is the implicit rule that Twitch is enforcing.

The risky option is to do whatever the fuck you want — smoke from an illegal place and talk all about it. It’s not wise legally and will get you suspended, maybe even banned, if you get “caught.” But the truth is that I personally know of at least one streamer with a 20+ average concurrent viewership who smokes weed all time and has never been in trouble for it. This option is “risky” but you will probably be fine. The real risk is if you want to become a Twitch partner. I cannot confirm that smoking weed on stream will or won’t impact your ability to be approved for partnership.

To reduce risk, downplay the weed thing. Treat it like a cup of coffee — it’s fun, but you don’t need to focus on it and talk about it over and over again. Twitch’s main rule seems to be that “drug use” (i.e. weed smoking, alcohol, etc) should not be the main focus of the stream. Keep it chill and enjoy.

Basically, if you’re a pothead and cannabis is a part of your brand, go for it. But if weed is the kind of thing you only partake in once-in-a-while, it might be prudent to not explicitly do it on stream. You could always take a puff or two off camera.

I hope your stream is a huge success. Good luck and have fun!

It’s 2020 and smoking weed is about as controversial as brewing a cup of coffee these days, at least in North America. Yet there’s always a fear of getting in trouble for it. Unfortunately, we aren’t…