Marijuana

Marijuana: David Lane will sue over new rule treating pot magazines like porn

Last week, we noted a section of the main bill to regulate Amendment 64 that essentially treated marijuana magazines like porn. In the days that followed, High Times warned that a lawsuit would be in the offing if the language was included in the final version -- but it was.

Now, attorney David Lane confirms that he'll sue the State of Colorado over the edict shortly after Governor John Hickenlooper signs it into law.

As we've reported, House Bill 13-1317, the aforementioned A64 legislation, whose passage became official yesterday, calls for "a requirement that magazines whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses are only sold in retail marijuana stores or behind the counter in establishments where persons under twenty-one years of age are present."

In other words, a convenience store wanting to stock publications such as High Times or THC Magazine won't be able to do so in standard racks easily accessible to customers. Rather, issues will be next to porn mags, with their covers presumably shielded to protect children -- and customers will have to ask clerks to grab copies for them.

Marijuana lawyer Warren Edson was left slack-jawed by this requirement. Amendment 64 proponents "said to regulate marijuana like alcohol," he told us, "but apparently, our legislature wants to regulate it like porn.

"How many beer brewing and distilling magazines are in the racks at the Tattered Cover -- yet they're going to make these magazines go behind the counter? Really?" In his view, this move "could be devastating for both the industry as a whole and consumers in terms of cutting back on information and ways to see new products -- because a lot of people aren't going to want the icky feeling of having to go into a 7-Eleven and ask, 'Can I see the magazine behind the brown paper bag?'"

Enter attorney Lane, who says he's been "contacted by some marijuana-oriented publications that are very concerned they're being treated like pornography." Hence an e-mail to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers yesterday evening. It reads:

Attorney General Suthers --

Apparently HB 13-1317, specifically 12-43.4-202. Powers and duties of state licensing authority on regulating marijuana, (3)(c) (I)(H) has a provision that says the following:

(H) A REQUIREMENT THAT MAGAZINES WHOSE PRIMARY FOCUS IS MARIJUANA OR MARIJUANA BUSINESSES ARE ONLY SOLD IN RETAIL MARIJUANA STORES OR BEHIND THE COUNTER IN ESTABLISHMENTS WHERE PERSONS UNDER TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE ARE PRESENT.

My own personal belief is that this is a blatant First Amendment violation. It has apparently passed muster with the House and Senate and the governor will be signing it shortly. Please inform Governor Hickenlooper that if this is signed into law, he can expect a First Amendment law suit filed promptly.

Thank you.

Lane believes such a suit would be "sort of a slam dunk as far as I'm concerned." Why is he so confident?

Continue for more about a promised lawsuit against the marijuana-magazines-treated-like-porn law.

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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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