Etsy cracks down on drug deals

No more healing crystals. No more marijuana leaves.


Lauren Rae Orsini

Internet Culture

Published Aug 10, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 1:03 pm CDT

You might be surprised to learn that drugs and drug paraphernalia have been available for sale on craft marketplace Etsy. Now the site has begun to crack down on transactions of that nature.

In a post on the official blog Wednesday, an Etsy spokesperson announced an extensive update to the commerce community’s Prohibited Items list.

“[W]e’ve spent long hours over the past several months extensively researching some offbeat and fascinating topics, from issues surrounding the sale of human bones to the corrosive and toxic properties of mercury. All this research has led us to a set of important updates to the Prohibited Items list in the DOs & DON’Ts of Etsy.”

Aside from drugs or products with healing properties of any kind, the site has also banned the sale of hazardous or poisonous materials, motor vehicles of any kind, and human remains or body parts (hair and teeth are still OK).

Sellers are fine with most of the updates, but the drug ban has prompted a discussion in the forum. What if a product like skin-softening lotion, stomach-settling tea, or dandruff-alleviating shampoo actually delivers on the medical benefits it promises?

“Does that mean that any lotion that claims to soften skin (aka alleviate dry skin implied?) is no longer acceptable? What would lotion be FOR then, exactly?” rakubuttons asked.

The majority of sellers with questions were encouraged to contact the Etsy Integrity Team to pass judgement on which claims are and aren’t OK.

Seller RareDaisyJewerly had a similar question—it’s not she who is making the claim that her jewelry cures ailments, it’s her customers:

“So my very feed back is against the rules? In my feedback, I’ve got customers who claim my weight loss bracelets were effective, my energy bracelets worked wonders and I’ve got 23 fertility customers who’ve reported conception.”

As an Etsy moderator clarified, it’s not the product that isn’t OK, but it is exactly this type of wording that is against the rules. In other words, RareDaisyJewelry and similar sellers will now have to sell their items as bracelets, not cures. The exact phrasing of the new ban on drugs:

“We have clarified the previous language from ‘drug-like substances’ to now be ‘medical drug claims about an item.’ A medical drug claim makes a correlation between a product and the cure or relief of a health condition or illness. In many cases, an item itself is not problematic, but the way it is presented with certain language is against this policy.”

While the policy went into effect officially on Wednesday, a moderator said it will take some time for Etsy to personally email each of the sellers they believe will be affected by the change, and these sellers will not be penalized.

So hurry up now and buy your tobacco alternatives, real marijuana leaves, and mystical meditation stones. They won’t be available for long.

Photo via Etsy

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*First Published: Aug 10, 2012, 9:59 am CDT