Marijuana advertising lawsuit: State should treat pot more like alcohol, Westword attorney says

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Since the regulations went into effect, "there haven't been any overt attempts by the State of Colorado to enforce these regulations on us, nor has the state done so anywhere else that we know of," Suskin says. "But the laws exist, and we're engaging in the very activity that the law attempts to regulate. And the state enforces its law through a vast network of law enforcers. You've got municipal police departments, county sheriff's offices, district attorneys in districts all around the state.

"There are a lot of players in this thing, and politically, there continues to be disagreement about the wisdom of what the voters enacted with Amendment 64. So that creates the very uncertainty and unpredictability that Westword is attempting to protect itself from by this lawsuit."

In the past, Suskin points out that courts "have been very skeptical about states' attempts to regulate speech in cases that have to do with alcohol and tobacco -- and we believe those cases are applicable to this situation.... Even though the developments in Colorado and other places [in regard to marijuana] are fairly recent, we think the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will control in the same way it did in these other instances."

Beyond that, Suskin feels that "Amendment 64 was a clear decision by the voters of Colorado that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol. That was the theme of the whole thing, and that's what people voted for. So Westword is urging the court to give life to the voters' position on these matters. And that should result in the court restricting the State of Colorado's ability to restrict commercial speech.

"The law should be as clear for us as it is for the industry out there -- marijuana retailers who want to communicate with people about their goods and services. We think the First Amendment protects us and the people who are in the marketplace. That's the important principal we want to have the court rule on."

Here's the complaint, followed by the motion for a preliminary injunction and supporting brief.

Marijuana Advertising Complaint

Marijuana Motion for Preliminary Inunction and Supporting Brief

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa June 2013: "Marijuana magazines as porn rule declared unconstitutional by state attorney general."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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