Judge Torches Colorado’s Marijuana Magazine Rule

     (CN) – A federal judge in Colorado struck down a law that would require magazines about marijuana to be sold behind counters like pornographic magazines, following findings by state officials that the law was unconstitutional.
     On May 28, Colorado lawmakers passed a set of regulations governing the legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Part of the state’s Retail Marijuana Code required the state Department of Revenue to create regulations requiring magazines about marijuana or marijuana-related businesses to be sold only “in retail marijuana stores or behind the counter in establishments where persons under 21 years of age are present.”
     The next day, High Times, The Daily Doobie and The Hemp Connisseur sued Colorado officials in federal court, calling the statute an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.
     On June 3, six more booksellers and distributors sued the state and Governor John Hickenlooper over the regulation.
     On June 5, the Colorado Department of Revenue published an emergency regulation calling the provision unconstitutional. The state attorney general issued a similar opinion.
     “Because magazines (as well as other forms of communications) devoted primarily (or even exclusively) to marijuana or marijuana businesses are not within a recognized category of unprotected speech, such as obscenity, defamation, fighting words, incitement, or true threats, the government’s content-based restriction on the plaintiffs’ rights to make available, allow for perusal, distribute, and sell non-commercial truthful information cannot pass constitutional muster,” the booksellers claimed.
     With the consent of all parties, Senior District Judge Richard P. Matsch found the rule “void and unconstitutional.” He permanently enjoined and restrained state officials from enforcing the provision.

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