High Times Challenges|Limits on Pot Ads

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      DENVER (CN) – Colorado unconstitutionally bars “all advertising targeting out-of-state persons” in its legalization of recreational marijuana, High Times magazine claims in Federal Court.
     The marijuana-enthusiast magazine, which has long featured centerfold shots of buds similar to Playboy centerfolds, sued Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper and
     Department of Revenue Executive Director Barbara on constitutional grounds.
     Effective Jan. 1, it has been legal for Colorado residents to produce and sell marijuana and possess up to one ounce at a time. Out of state residents may by and possess lesser amounts.
     The law gives the Colorado Department of Revenue the power to establish regulations to prevent sale of marijuana to minors (under 21) and to adopt restrictions on marijuana advertising and display.
     The Retail Marijuana Code requires the State Licensing Authority “to promulgate rules on the subject of signage, marketing and advertising restrictions that include, but are not limited to, a prohibition on mass-market campaigns that have a likelihood of reaching minors,” according to the 11-page lawsuit.
     High Times, which is distributed nationwide, claims the regulations violate the First and 14th Amendments.
     “The MED [Marijuana Enforcement Division] regulations unlawfully limit plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to distribute protected commercial speech via television, radio, print media and the internet and unlawfully ban all outdoor advertising and all advertising ‘targeting out-of-state persons’. The regulations violate plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights because each is more extensive than necessary to serve any cognizable government interests. And each fails to directly advance any cognizable government interest, and each fails to directly advance any cognizable government interests,” the complaint states.
     The law and regulations also “irrationally single out Retail Marijuana Establishments for more stringent advertising restrictions than those regulating the alcohol industry although the Colorado Constitution calls for regulation of marijuana ‘in a manner similar to alcohol,” the publisher claims.
     High Times Magazine seeks declaratory judged that the rules violate the First and 14th Amendments, and what enforcement enjoined, plus costs. They are represented by David A. Lane of Denver.