ALBUQUERQUE (CN) — Represented by the speaker of the State House, a medical marijuana company claims the New Mexico State Fair Commission so strictly limited what it may offer at an educational booth that it would be barred from showing a picture of a shovel, a cookie or a cardboard box.
New Mexico Top Organics – Ultra Health, which paid the $50 application fee to operate an educational booth at this year’s State Fair, says the State Fair Commission’s rules are unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, prior restraint, and denial of equal protection.
Top Organics is a nonprofit, licensed by New Mexico’s Department of Health “to grow, distribute, and sell medical cannabis products to patients enrolled in the Department’s Medical Cannabis Program,” it says in its May 31 federal lawsuit.
Nonetheless, it says, it was barred from bringing not only “any type of drug paraphernalia that could be used to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the human body any type of cannabis or other controlled substance,” but from “displaying any image of the above restricted items in any way to include banners, flyers, clothing or any other medium.”
Under those terms, Ultra Health points out, it could not bring a drawing or photo of a pot plant, or of a shovel, or of a cookie, or of a cardboard box, which might be used to store medical marijuana.
For fear of violating these vague and unconstitutional restrictions, Ultra Health decided not to set up a booth at the State Fair this year, but to sue instead.
Lead defendant Larry Kennedy is chairman of the New Mexico State Fair Commission. Defendant Dan Mourning is general manager of Expo New Mexico, a state agency; and Raina Bingham is director of the Concessions Department for Expo New Mexico. All are sued in their official capacities.
Last year Ultra Health ran an informational booth at the State Fair at which it displayed “Dorothy,” a 3-week-old female marijuana plant — but not for long. The state police evicted Dorothy from the fair on Day One.
Ultra Health wants the commission’s rules enjoined as violations of the First and 14th Amendments, plus damages and attorney’s fees.
It is represented by Kristina Caffrey and Brian Egolf with Egolf + Ferlic + Harwood of Albuquerque. Brian Egolf is also speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives.