Last month Colorado passed a law – as part of a broad set of regulations for the newly-legal recreational cannabis industry – requiring marijuana-themed magazines to be kept behind the counter in stores that allow minors, similar to how the state treats pornography. On Thursday Colorado’s Attorney General announced that this new restriction is unconstitutional, and that the state will not defend it in court. The Attorney General’s office issued a statement that reads: “No magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses is required to be sold only in retail marijuana stores or behind the counter in establishments where persons under twenty-one years of age are present, because such a requirement would violate the United States Constitution, the Colorado Constitution, and section 24-4-103(4)(a.5)(IV), C.R.S”.
A lawsuit has been filed against the state by High Times, The Daily Doobie and The Hemp Connoisseur, seeking a permanent injunction on the new law. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch has ruled that despite the state’s decision not to enforce the new law (via an emergency rule issued by the state executive branch), the state must respond to the lawsuit by the end of this month. A separate case has been filed by the ACLU, on behalf of three booksellers.
Activists and advocates are celebrating the Attorney General’s decision, as Colorado is the first state to pass such a law restricting the display of marijuana magazines, and could have potentially encouraged other states to pass similar legislation.
“We applaud the Attorney General’s decision to declare as unconstitutional this absurd rule that marijuana-related publications be treated like pornographic material,” said Mason Tvert, one of the prime sponsors Colorado’s Amendment 64. “The idea that stores can prominently display magazines touting the joys of drinking wine and smoking cigars, yet banish those that discuss a far safer substance to behind the counter, is absolutely absurd.”
Colorado Attorney General Voids Restrictions on Marijuana Magazines, Calls Law Unconstitutional