Marijuana advertising: Caution does not trump the Constitution

From The Durango Herald editorial page: When Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 legalizing possession, use and purchase of marijuana for recreational purposes, a legal and moral quagmire began. First on the list was whether and how the state’s position on marijuana would mesh with the decidedly less hospitable stance held by the federal government. President Barack Obama dispensed with that concern, somewhat, by saying his Justice Department had other priorities, leaving Colorado to the business of crafting the rules on just how to bring a formerly illegal substance into the mainstream. The rules are many, and rightly so. Those concerning how marijuana is advertised, though, are treading too far onto freedoms firmly established in the First Amendment.

At issue are two proposed rules that would prohibit advertisers from placing marijuana ads in any publication – online or print – that “has a high likelihood of reaching minors.” While the intent of the rules is defensible, their implication for the First Amendment rights of the press, advertisers and readers is not.

Commercial speech has long been protected by the First Amendment – for those who read it and publish it alike. And regardless of the significant stigma associated with recreational marijuana use, it now is legal in Colorado and as such is fair game for advertising.

Visit The Durango Herald to read more.

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