Top

blog

Stories

 

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

marijuana.colorado.flag.205x205-thumb-205x205.jpg
Earlier this week, Westword and High Times magazine filed a lawsuit against the State of Colorado in regard to regulations that restrict recreational marijuana advertising to publications that are deemed "adult" by a state-mandated formula. Attorney Steve Suskin, who represents Westword on behalf of the paper's parent company, Voice Media Group, says the complaint was filed because the state's current rules could violate the First Amendment. Meanwhile, the paper's publisher emphasizes that when it comes to such ads, Westword is very much open for business.

"We are 100 percent confident of the legality of where we are in terms of taking this business," says Scott Tobias, who is also the CEO of Voice Media Group, a company that owns publications in Los Angeles, New York and other major U.S. cities in addition to Denver. "From the very start of Amendment 64, we committed ourselves to being a reference point to the medical marijuana community, and now the retail marijuana community. We remain committed to strong partnerships and support of these businesses."

As for the lawsuit, it was assembled by attorney David Lane, who last year represented High Times in a successful challenge to a law that essentially treated marijuana magazines like porn. We've included the entire document below, along with a motion for a preliminary injunction and supporting brief. But in general, the complaint attacks Colorado rules stating that television and radio stations, print publications and more can only accept such ads if they can prove their audience is overwhelmingly adult.

david.lane.on.today.JPG
Attorney David Lane.
Here's the language in regard to print businesses: "A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not engage in Advertising in a print publication unless the Retail Marijuana Establishment has reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the publication's readership is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21."

The suit argues that restrictions such as the 30 percent designation, which is also applied to other media outlets, "irrationally single out Retail Marijuana Establishments for more stringent advertising restrictions than those regulating the alcohol industry although the Colorado Constitution calls for the regulation of marijuana 'in a manner similar to alcohol.'" The document also maintains that "defendants have not and cannot produce sufficient evidence to demonstrate that any of its heavy-handed restrictions at issue directly advance any arguably substantial government interest(s)."

As such, the suit contends that specified edicts in the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code "violate the First Amendment because they regulate lawful and non-misleading commercial speech concerning Retail Marijuana Establishments."

high_times_oliver_stone.jpg
A High Times magazine cover.
According to Westword attorney Suskin, the decision to join the suit "is really more a matter of principle than it is a burning need to have a change in the law in order to continue serving the marijuana industry in our advertising function.

"The law is set up on the broad concept, at least as it relates to marketing and advertising, that none of these messages reach children," he continues. "I suppose that's the state's altruistic goal, and frankly, the demographics for Westword probably meet the strict criteria in terms of the percentage of readers who are over the age of 21. But we thought it was important that it be clear the regulations that have been promulgated by the state are in conflict with Westword's First Amendment rights in terms of free speech.

"That's really what the complaint and the motion for preliminary injunction are all about. It's important that we not create a precedent or go down a slippery slope, where commercial speech restrictions are enacted that violate Colorado citizens' First Amendment rights."

Continue for more about the marijuana advertising lawsuit, including two documents.



Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
30 comments
AggregateDemand
AggregateDemand

Consumers don't need to pay advertising costs, and the marijuana industry doesn't need to degenerate into a corporate oligopoly. Keep recreational substances small, local, differentiated, and in-state. The US should have done the same with tobacco and alcohol.

WillieStortz
WillieStortz topcommenter

Why do I see a Patients Choice add on this page? They are listing their location at 2517 Sheridan Blvd which is a recreational dope store.

JS Kaufman
JS Kaufman

If you are commenting on this post I would assume you read the publication, or subscribe to it via social network. Westword is a FREE publication for your enjoyment. With that being said of course it's a money issue. The advertising makes it possible for us to walk through our great city and pick up a Westword at hundreds if not thousands of locations. If you don't like the advertisement don't shop or participate in it. If someone doesn't like a certain company (ex. Budweiser) they don't buy their product. Yet I bet the same people still watched the Super Bowl, who collected millions from them for advertising.

WillieStortz
WillieStortz topcommenter

If we really want to treat marijuana like alcohol, the first thing we need to do is limit companies to owning only one dispensary, just like companies are limited to owning 1 liquor store in this state.

There are soon going to be laws coming before the state house that will limit owner ship to a single dispensary, please write your state congressman or senator and tell them you support this law.

Stan Salazar
Stan Salazar

You idiots keep pushing your luck. I'm going to laugh my ass off when the Feds come in to town and clean house. Not that I'm against the use of any leisure recreational or party drug that is on the Feds radar, but when the state gives you a gram and then an ounce, you demand pounds & pounds. Just an analogy for you get an inch and take 20 yards and if you don't get it, you cry. The state will throw it out, you will go to the Supreme Court and they will shockingly remind you that marijuana is I'm fact still federally illegal. Greedy ass morons.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Looks like The Denver Post and other daily newspapers are the only rags left that don't have more than 30% of their readership being Puerile Pot Punks -- HighTimes, The Rooster and Wasteweed not so much.


Wonder if the DP will file an amicus brief in SUPPORT of the REGULATIONS so they can corner the market on advertising revenue.


It's funny that the DISPENSARIES themselves haven't filed suit, since the regulations and restrictions on ads apply only to them, and not to the advertising media itself. Guess they are so used to the FIST of Government Regulation being rammed deep up their collective asses that they don't even feel it anymore.


As the Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Whore from 3D said -- "I'll do WHATEVER MMED tells me to!"





Lynwood David Sumner Jr
Lynwood David Sumner Jr

It's a sad state of affairs. Some people still think that the Internet is only about free porn!

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Because it hurt your advertisment revenue. Don´t pretend like your doing it for a nobel reason. IT´s been a bit but as I try to remind you you are all whores for the dollar and in no way looking out for the peoples intrests.

Marc Babel
Marc Babel

Westword used to be good. Not so much anymore.

Mick Paul
Mick Paul

One day you post a story bout how retail prices are "raping" people, and now you are mad you cannot collect money from retail shops for advertising? So the next logical step is to file a lawsuit? lol. Makes a hell of alot of sense.

Mick Paul
Mick Paul

So you sue the state because your advertising sales are down?

FreeTheWeed
FreeTheWeed

The lawsuit will fall. The law doesn't restrict the media, it restricts the "strictly regulated" dispensaries from certain types of commercial advertising.

Westweed doesn't even have standing since the regulations don't apply to them. And advertising revenue from illegal activities is not a protected free speech right.

How's that REGULATION feel now?

ROTFLMAO!

Smokeweedeveryday
Smokeweedeveryday

@WillieStortz Because Westword's readership is within the 30% or lower requirement of readers who are under the age of 21 (4% of Westword's readership is under the age of 21 according to Media Audit), and the law as it stands does not effect current retail advertising. The motive here is doing what's RIGHT yo, not because Westword actually stands to lose any business as the law stands currently.  Protecting free speech and whatnot.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@WillieStortz  ... in spite of the petulant puerility of the majority of Wasteword's stories from Michael "fluffmaster" Roberts and Bongsucker Billy, they likely aren't even affected by this law, since more than 70% of their readers/audience are over 21 ... 


... or maybe not, it's hard to tell from the inanity and ignorance of much of the comment section.


Publications that will be affected are those College / University newspapers and magazines, such as the Colorado Daily, The Rooster, etc.



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Westweed isn't being restricted or prohibited from advertising, or writing stories and reviews about the Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Pigs.


The Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Pigs are the ones being restricted and regulated from commercial advertising in certain puerile-centric publications -- restrictions and regulations THEY BEGGED FOR!


           *** REGULATION WORKS, Bitches!***



Do you see any Cigarette ads on Television or in Teen Magazines?



Take a guess why.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@WillieStortz  ... and END the Vertical integration. 


Under Alcohol law, manufacturers/producers of beer, wine and distilled spirits are not allowed to own liquor stores.





JimTom
JimTom

I've already read my fiction for the day.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Cartel Pigs are as Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Cartel Pigs do !!


GB$DCPAAGB$DCPD !!


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... their ad revenue from Dispensary Cartels was waaaay down long before this law ... mainly due to the MASSIVE REGULATIONS driving the MAJORITY of dispensaries in Colorado into financial ruin over the last 3 years.


Wasteword will have to retreat to their old foundation of ad $$ -- Sex Lines, Topless Bars, Prostitutes masquerading as masseuses, Cigarettes and Booze, Booze Booze.






cardboardcowboy
cardboardcowboy

@FreeTheWeed Yes, how dare Westword listen to their attorneys rather than a loudmouth assshole internet troll?


Hilarious. Go fuck yourself, loser.

FreeTheWeed
FreeTheWeed

@smokeweed ... which is why Weedword doesn't have standing to sue. They aren't directly or even indirectly affected by this REGULATION upon licenced dispensaries.

Let the Dispensary Cartels step up and argue in favor of commercial advertising of controlled substances directed at minors.

WillieStortz
WillieStortz topcommenter

I wouldn't consider advertising dope to children and teenagers doing what's right. I think they are only concered about $$$ and could care less about the damage it causes to children who destroy their brains with dope.

It's best to report the case to the department of revenue and let them decide if the law is being broken.

JimTom
JimTom

@cardboardcowboy @FreeTheWeedHey cardboard brain he is completely correct. WW is suing FOR their biggest customer the MMJ cartel. Typical cartel, use everyone they can for a buck. WW is such a joke. Hmm how about an amendment restrict free distribution paper stands for any publication advertising pot?  

FreeTheWeed
FreeTheWeed

Ward Churchill listened to the same attorney.

How'd that work out?

Lolz!

FreeTheWeed
FreeTheWeed

@Willie "think they are only concered about $$$ and could care less about the damage it causes to children who destroy their brains with dope.'

Being they've always accepted $$$ from alcohol and tobacco, and pimps and whores, their unmitigated greed is incontrovertible fact.

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...